The Brussels public prosecutor has accused authors' and publishers collecting society SABAM of the incorrect distribution of royalties to the rightful authors, composers and publishers.

The decision of the prosecutor is based on the results of a three-year inquiry from a criminal investigator on the financial procedures with SABAM.

SABAM is accused of deficient organization and structure, hazy distribution and lack of internal control resulting in the fact that the SABAM members did not receive all of the royalties they were entitled to. Some of the funds allegedly remained on SABAM's accounts, financing the society's expenses. The public prosecutor, who refused to comment on the case, is reported to be set to prosecute both SABAM and five of its (some of them former) executives, for forgery and abuse of confidence.

SABAM said that it was premature to react to the detailed infringements stated by the prosecutor.

"I'd like to point out that, since 2005, we have been actively collaborating with the justice department," comments SABAM spokesman Thierry Dachelet, "And we haven't yet received an official notice from the prosecutor's office."

Dachelet points out that, since 1999, SABAM has been restructuring its services - a second phase of the restructuring was launched July 10 this year based on a strategic plan to become more competitive on a European level, work more transparently and to become more client-oriented on behalf of authors, composers and publishers.

"I prefer not to comment on the prosecutor's accusations, and we are not aware of any details. Human mistakes cannot be excluded but is this fraud? A hearing in chambers will decide whether this case will be ruled in court," adds Dachelet, "And I do regret to see that every step in this investigation results in negative publicity for SABAM - organisations like [industry body] Muziekcentrum Vlaanderen have expressed their understanding in this and remain patient."

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