Article 496



Criminal liability

Article 496 of the Belgian Criminal Code stipulates that swindle is the use of deceptive or fraudulent means (e.g. the deceptive promise to provide for a decent job or accommodation) in order to persuade someone else of the existence of a false enterprise, of an imaginary credit (this is a common practice in instances of debt bondage), to give someone false hopes or to abuse the trust or naivety of another, with the ultimate purpose of appropriating money or property belonging to another. This offence is punished with 1 month to 5 years of imprisonment and a monetary fine ranging from 26 EUR-3,000 EUR (which as of May 2015 needed to be multiplied by 6 in order to accommodate for currency depreciation).


If swindle is committed to the detriment of a person who is in a vulnerable position because of his age, pregnancy, illness or a physical or mental handicap, the offence will be punished with 6 months – 5 years’ imprisonment and a monetary fine of 26 EUR – 3,000 EUR (which as of May 2015 needed to be multiplied by 6 in order to accommodate for the currency depreciation).

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Law /Belgium / Criminal Code

The Belgian Criminal Code is the basic statutory instrument containing various provisions on penalties and offences.

The Belgian Criminal Code has been amended by numerous Acts (the provisions outlined in this database are as amended by these Acts.). The thre Acts that are most relevant to human trafficking for labour exploitation are:

  • Act of 10 August 2005 amending various provisions with a view to strengthening the fight against trafficking of human beings and the practices of slum landlords: this Act has inter alia led article 433quinquies – 433novies to be inserted into the Criminal Code, thereby creating the autonomous offence of human trafficking, and has amended the offence of human smuggling contained in article 77bis – 77sexies Aliens Act .
  • Act of 24 June 2013 on the punishment of the exploitation of begging and prostitution, human trafficking and smuggling in relation to the number of victims: this Act stipulates that the monetary fine that is to be imposed for the offences of exploitation of begging and prostitution (article 380 Criminal Code), human trafficking (article 433quinquies – 433novies Criminal Code), and human smuggling (article 77bis – 77quinquies Aliens Act) is to be multiplied by the number of victims.
  • The Act of 31st May 2016 to further implement European regulation on the sexual exploitation of children, child pornography, human trafficking and facilitation of illegal entry, unauthorised transit and illegal residence. This Act amends articles 433septies (extension of the list of aggravating circumstances) and 433novies Criminal Code (amendment of the list of penalties). The Act also introduces article 433novies/1, that prohibits and penalises the publication and distribution of texts, drawings, photos and other images and audio clips that could give an indication of the identity of the victim of human trafficking, except when this was done with her of his written consent or within the framework of a judicial inquiry.