“We will be uncompromising with those who hijack the system,” Elisabeth Borne said in an interview with RTL.
Of the first 25,000 checks, 700 businesses – 1,400 cases in total – were suspected of having misused the government scheme chômage partiel (partial unemployment), which saw millions of French receive state help during the coronavirus lockdown.
— RTL France (@RTLFrance) July 28, 2020
As the coronavirus crisis hit France with full force in March the government ramped up state aid to businesses, spending billions on state-schemes to prevent mass-layoffs and chain bankruptcies.
But some businesses seem to have abused the schemes. Of the 700 businesses being investigated for misconduct, Borne said some were suspected of having forged identities of employees to get state funding while others were suspected of having asked their employees to work while on the scheme.
An additional 50,000 checks will be done before the end of the summer, Borne said.
Any business found to have committed fraud faces up to two years of prison and up to €30,000 in fines, in addition to being excluded from state help schemes for five years and having to reimburse the money they received.