France: The Senate takes legal action in the investigation of consulting companies

PARIS, March 25 (Reuters) – The Senate said on Friday it had taken legal action on suspicion of false testimony as part of a commission of inquiry into the influence of consulting firms on public policy.

France’s upper house of parliament says in a statement that during a sworn hearing before the commission of inquiry, a McKinsey associate director said last January that the firm paid corporation tax in France.

But according to the Senate, an investigation by senators showed that the consultancy “has not paid corporate tax in France for at least 10 years”.

“These facts were supported by two documentary and on-site checks carried out at the Ministry of Economy and Finance,” adds the upper house.

“In respect of the separation of powers, it is now up to the courts to rule on this report”, continues the Senate.

Asked by Reuters, McKinsey did not immediately comment on the Senate’s decision to take legal action.

A spokesperson for the firm referred to a statement issued last week in which McKinsey said it had paid “around 422 million euros in taxes and social charges” between 2011 and 2020.

“The firm is subject to corporation tax in France, and has paid this tax in the years the firm has made a profit in France,” McKinsey said.

“As regards transfer pricing, McKinsey has an approach which is not specific to France and which applies to the various countries where it is present. This approach is known to the French tax administration”, continues the firm. , who says he is at the disposal of the Senate inquiry committee for any clarification.

Asked about franceinfo, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said the use of consulting firms was frequent in the public sphere, while indicating that a judicial investigation targeting McKinsey was underway, without giving further details. .

“There has always been recourse to consulting firms. (…) And indeed, there is an increase in expert firms to which the State has resorted during the health crisis to support the deployment of the campaign of vaccination, in particular,” said Gabriel Attal.

“Does that mean that we consider that the use of experts can or must be done without a framework? Obviously not. And the PR (President of the Republic, editor’s note) had the opportunity to recall it: he It has to be done sparingly,” added the government spokesman.

In a report made public on March 16, the Senate announced that the French State had spent more than one billion euros on consulting services last year.

“These expenses have more than doubled since 2018, which questions both our vision of the State and its sovereignty in the face of private firms and the proper use of our public funds”, underlines the senatorial commission of inquiry.

“Whole sections of public policy have been outsourced to private firms: health crisis, reform of legal aid, road radars, evaluation of the national health strategy”, she continues.

“The use of consultants has thus become a reflex for a State which sometimes gives the impression that it ‘no longer knows how to do’, despite the dedication of its own agents”, we can still read. (Report Sarah Morland, Tassilo Hummel, Matthieu Protard and Nicolas Delame, edited by Jean-Michel Bélot)

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