Millionaire pays fine in lieu of prison sentence

Summary

A Ghent property developer who pretended to be unemployed in order to collect almost €40,000 in benefits agreed to pay a fine of €33,000 and his 18-month prison sentence has been commuted

Property developer collected almost €40,000 in benefits while pretending to be unemployed

A Ghent property developer who pretended to be unemployed in order to collect almost €40,000 in benefits will not serve an 18-month sentence imposed for the fraud. Didier De Witte, 66, (pictured) agreed with the prosecutor’s office to pay a fine of €33,000 instead, and his prison sentence has been commuted.

Over the course of four years, De Witte claimed monthly benefits of €830 as a job-seeking head of family. In reality, he was one of the city’s most successful property developers, specialised in hotels. In the time period concerned, he built hotels in Aalst, Ghent and Brussels. His system was only discovered when it emerged that he was domiciled in the Dominican Republic, where he continues to live.

In 2011 he was sentenced to 18 months, fined €27,500 and forced to repay the total of €39,487 claimed illegally. The prison term has now been suspended as the fine is increased to €33,000. 

Millionaire pays fine in lieu of prison sentence

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