Late payments continue to weaken the French economy, nearly 30% of companies paying “a significant portion of their invoices beyond the legal deadlines”, noted the fraud department (DGCCRF) in its annual annual report Monday.
The DGCCRF has inspected more than 900 establishments, 278 of which have benefited from a loan guaranteed by the State (PGE), a system put in place to deal with the Covid-19 epidemic aimed precisely “at helping companies to pay their suppliers in compliance with legal deadlines in order to avoid transmission of payment incidents to the entire economy, “according to a press release from this administration.
20.5 million euros in fines in 2020 for late payments
According to a still provisional report, 20.5 million euros in fines were imposed last year for late payments.
The DGCCRF told . that this amount was “potentially liable to decrease, given the observations that would be submitted by companies as part of the adversarial phase”, and which could in certain cases lead to the administration to reduce its fine.
In 2019, some 22 million euros of fine had been imposed, and 17.2 million in 2018.
Seven fines pronounced in 2020 by the DGCCRF exceeded the threshold of 375,000 euros, corresponding to the old ceiling for this type of sanction, which was raised to 2 million euros by the Transparency law of 2016.
Distribution, transport, banking, chemicals … all sectors affected
This new ceiling was reached last year against Cora, a large retail chain.
Next, the road transport group XPO Distribution France, with a fine of 1.23 million euros, and La Banque Postale, with 990,000 euros.
The professional training organization Agefos PME Ile-de-France was notified for its part of 750,000 euros in fine and the chemical manufacturer Lubrizol, whose fire in a Seveso classified factory in Rouen in 2019 caused significant pollution, 530,000 euros.
In 6th place is the Tereos sugar bowl with 390,000 euros, ahead of the perfumer Nocibé with 383,000 euros.
Often failures prior to the health crisis
In most of these seven cases, the DGCCRF specifies that the fines relate “to breaches committed during a period prior to the health emergency situation following the Covid-19 epidemic.”
The non-respect of payment deadlines was responsible before the health crisis of one in four SME bankruptcies in France, according to the national inter-company mediator Pierre Pelouzet, cited in a report from the Terra Nova think tank at the end of 2019.