On 10 December 2008, the Auditors decided not to investigate a complaint lodged by Motion Investment Group (MIG) against the Vlaamse Film Producenten Bond (VFPB) and the Union des Producteurs de Films Francophones (UPFF) as the complaint was considered to be unfounded.
MIG, a company active as an intermediary between movie producers and investors wanting to invest in audiovisual productions thereby benefiting from the tax shelter regime, lodged a complaint in 2007. The tax shelter is a tax incentive allowing companies that invest in audiovisual productions to benefit from a tax reduction and aims at encouraging the production of audiovisual and cinematographic work.
In this complaint, MIG alleged that VFBP's Deontological Code (Code) in relation to the use of the tax shelter for the financing of movies should be considered to be a decision of a trade association restricting competition as this code recommended not to deal with intermediaries asking fees above the level fixed by VFPB and not to grant investors a profitability above 4.52% for equity investments. MIG also included the UPFF in its complaint as the latter would invite its members, on a regular basis, to comply with VFBP's Code.
VFPB argued that its Code is not binding and that it merely contains recommendations on the application of the tax shelter in order to ensure a correct application of the law. The Ministry of Finance had indeed imposed in a ruling a maximum profitability limit of 4.52% for equity investments. As far as the fee is concerned, the Ministry had indicated in the same ruling that fees should be set in compliance with the principle of free competition and be justified by the actual performance of the intermediary. Furthermore, VFBP indicated that there was no sanction in case of non compliance with the Code and committed to changing the name of the Code to "Advising Code". Finally, VFBP stated that the Code should be considered as a response to the movie producers' anxiety to ensure the durability of the tax shelter system, which is of crucial importance for the movie production sector, and that the Code's aim certainly was not to limit or suppress competition.
The Auditorat accepted VFBP's argumentation and ruled that there was no need to further investigate the complaint. Finally, it is worth mentioning that, in any event, MIG had withdrawn its complaint on 3 December 2008.