To have reluctant to pay their subcontractors and suppliers on time, several large companies will have to draw the checkbook. After 900 checks carried out in 2020, the General Directorate for Consumption, Competition and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) revealed that around 30% of companies whose accounts were scrutinized “Paid a significant fraction of their invoices beyond the legal deadlines”. To stem the phenomenon, the champions of latecomers must pay a fine, sometimes steep. The large distribution chain Cora is thus fined 2 million euros, the maximum authorized by law. In second place, the road transport company XPO Distribution received an adjustment of 1,230,000 euros.
A hunt for unpaid bills revived by the crisis
As for the Postal Bank, it will have to pay nearly 1 million euros. PSG will have to pay 700,000 euros. In all, 182 administrative fine procedures were sent to companies showing late payment of invoices, for a total of 29.9 million euros.
If the misdeeds are for the most part prior to 2020 – the PSG thus defended itself that its late invoices date from 2018 -, the economic and health slump has revived the hunt for unpaid bills. “This action is all the more crucial in times of crisis in order to avoid the risks of a chain effect threatening the viability of companies”, notes the DGCCRF. More than an invoice lying around the corner of the desk, late payments risk plunging suppliers of companies into serious difficulty, making them in turn unable to pay their due. Ultimately, the risk is that of cascading bankruptcies, and so many jobs threatened. Already before the health crisis, failure to meet payment deadlines was responsible for one in four SME bankruptcies in France, noted Pierre Pelouzet, national inter-company mediator, in a report by the Terra Nova think tank, at the end of 2019.
The administration ensures that it pays special attention to companies that have been granted a loan guaranteed by the state during the coronavirus crisis. This device aimed precisely “To help companies to pay their suppliers within the legal deadlines in order to avoid transmission of payment incidents to the whole economy”. Of the 900 companies inspected, 278 benefited from this government boost.