Thursday, 20 January, 2022

Solidarity fund: Bercy intensifies the hunt for fraudsters and hopes to recover 30 million


The Ministry of Public Accounts has identified 23,000 litigious files and hopes to recover 30 million euros in unduly paid aid. And 300,000 a priori checks of aid applications are still in progress.

Two million companies have benefited from the solidarity fund, for an amount of 14 billion euros since April.

Track off offenders, but also fraudsters. In the aftermath of the warning to illegal restaurants and establishments, threatened with losing the payment of the solidarity fund if they opened despite the administrative closure, Bercy announced on Tuesday to intensify the fight against all those seeking to take undue advantage of the generosity of the state. The Ministry of Public Accounts hopes to recover 27 million euros in aid that should not have been paid, which would add to the 3 million already recovered.

These some 30 million may seem derisory, compared to some 44 billion in additional spending that the health crisis has caused or the 14 billion euros already disbursed for the solidarity fund alone. But the executive wants to prove that “whatever the cost” remains under control. “A euro spent must be useful for the economy. We are therefore tracking every euro given to fraudsters ”, we explain to the cabinet of Olivier Dussopt, the Minister for Public Accounts.

Economic pillar

The solidarity fund – which over the course of the crisis has become the pillar of the government’s economic response – is in fact closely watched by the custodians of public funds. Bercy has two levers to track down fraudsters. First of all, a priori checks, even before the aid is paid. These are automatic when the requested monthly aid exceeds 30,000 euros, with a dedicated team of 50 people. There are also cases on a case-by-case basis.

In total, since April, around 1 million requests out of a total of 7 million have been blocked for verification, immobilizing for a few days or weeks around 2 billion euros in aid, many of which ended up being disbursed despite everything. Today, this number of ongoing checks has been reduced to 300,000. The work is important, and it is already planned to hire 250 people who will also avoid delays in the payment of aid in the face of the influx of applications.

A posteriori controls

Other levers: a posteriori controls. It is these controls which made it possible to recover 3 million euros and of which Bercy still hopes for 27 million. The Ministry of Public Accounts estimates that it has identified 23,000 payments “Probably undue”. Bercy prefers not to dwell too much on the schemes of these fraudsters, evoking only two typical cases: this company which artificially inflates its 2019 turnover to receive aid in 2020 when its activity was almost zero, or else this delivery man who claims to be in reality an establishment receiving the public on its own. These companies are also under threat of criminal prosecution.

The solidarity fund is not the only device concerned by fraud, and the executive has already launched an action for several months to prevent those related to partial unemployment. The total amount of these frauds to government support measures is still unknown. “The Court of Auditors mentioned for a moment the figure of 100 million euros, but the data are still incomplete”, estimates a government source.

Read also:

Solidarity fund: how Bercy is organizing itself to manage the influx of requests

Business aid: who benefited from the solidarity fund in three graphs

The Ministry of Public Accounts has identified 23,000 litigious files and hopes to recover 30 million euros in unduly paid aid. And 300,000 a priori checks of aid applications are still in progress.

Two million companies have benefited from the solidarity fund, for an amount of 14 billion euros since April.

Track off offenders, but also fraudsters. In the aftermath of the warning to illegal restaurants and establishments, threatened with losing the payment of the solidarity fund if they opened despite the administrative closure, Bercy announced on Tuesday to intensify the fight against all those seeking to take undue advantage of the generosity of the state. The Ministry of Public Accounts hopes to recover 27 million euros in aid that should not have been paid, which would add to the 3 million already recovered.

These some 30 million may seem derisory, compared to some 44 billion in additional spending that the health crisis has caused or the 14 billion euros already disbursed for the solidarity fund alone. But the executive wants to prove that “whatever the cost” remains under control. “A euro spent must be useful for the economy. We are therefore tracking every euro given to fraudsters ”, we explain to the cabinet of Olivier Dussopt, the Minister for Public Accounts.

Economic pillar

The solidarity fund – which over the course of the crisis has become the pillar of the government’s economic response – is in fact closely watched by the custodians of public funds. Bercy has two levers to track down fraudsters. First of all, a priori checks, even before the aid is paid. These are automatic when the requested monthly aid exceeds 30,000 euros, with a dedicated team of 50 people. There are also cases on a case-by-case basis.

In total, since April, around 1 million requests out of a total of 7 million have been blocked for verification, immobilizing for a few days or weeks around 2 billion euros in aid, many of which ended up being disbursed despite everything. Today, this number of ongoing checks has been reduced to 300,000. The work is important, and it is already planned to hire 250 people who will also avoid delays in the payment of aid in the face of the influx of applications.

A posteriori controls

Other levers: a posteriori controls. It is these controls which made it possible to recover 3 million euros and of which Bercy still hopes for 27 million. The Ministry of Public Accounts estimates that it has identified 23,000 payments “Probably undue”. Bercy prefers not to dwell too much on the schemes of these fraudsters, evoking only two typical cases: this company which artificially inflates its 2019 turnover to receive aid in 2020 when its activity was almost zero, or else this delivery man who claims to be in reality an establishment receiving the public on its own. These companies are also under threat of criminal prosecution.

The solidarity fund is not the only device concerned by fraud, and the executive has already launched an action for several months to prevent those related to partial unemployment. The total amount of these frauds to government support measures is still unknown. “The Court of Auditors mentioned for a moment the figure of 100 million euros, but the data are still incomplete”, estimates a government source.

Read also:

Solidarity fund: how Bercy is organizing itself to manage the influx of requests

Business aid: who benefited from the solidarity fund in three graphs