Belgian prince implicated in fraud scandal

Belgian Prince Laurent, the youngest son of King Albert, was implicated in a scandal to receive money from the military to pay for his house and will face prosecution if convicted, the local media reported Wednesday.

It has been alleged that military personnel and businessmen used bogus invoices to obtain money from the Belgian armed services. Among the total

183,000 euros (about 220,000 U.S. dollars) of money, some was said to have been used to renovate the Prince's home.

The chief suspect, the Prince's former military advisor Noel Vaessen, claimed that the fraud happened with full knowledge of the Prince.

The case is due to be heard in the eastern city of Hasselt next year. Hasselt Public Prosecutor Marc Rubens denied Vaessen's accusation, saying the former advisor had done so to cover up his own fraudulent practices.

The Belgian government refused to confirm the allegation, but said the Prince, unlike his father who enjoys immunity, will be subject to prosecution if the case is proven.

"There is no legal immunity for a prince but he will be presumed innocent until proven guilty, just like anyone else," said Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders.

It is not the first time Prince Laurent was caught up in controversy. The Prince reportedly enjoys an expensive lifestyle and a state income of nearly 300,000 euros (about 360,000 dollars) can barely cover his spending, according to a former aide.

Source: Xinhua



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