French financial prosecutor confirms GE’s Belfort site searched By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The General Electric logo is seen in a Sears store in Schaumburg, Illinois, September 8, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young

PARIS (Reuters) – Searches were conducted on Thursday at U.S conglomerate General Electric (NYSE:)’s Belfort site in France as part of an ongoing probe into possible tax fraud, France’s financial prosecutor said on Friday.

In an email responding to Reuters queries, deputy financial prosecutor Antoine Jocteur-Monrozier said the searches were part of a preliminary probe into alleged money laundering and tax fraud.

General Electric said in an e-mailed statement that it would cooperate with the French authorities, adding it complied “with laws in every country in which the company operates”.

The inquiry was triggered after Fabien Roussel, the head of France’s Communist Party, voiced suspicions about the company’s tax conduct in July 2019, Jocteur-Monrozier said.

A second complaint was filed by the company’s social and economic committee in May, he added.

“The investigation … continues,” Jocteur-Monrozier said.

AFP first reported the searches on Thursday. It said the workers’ council and unions at the site had alleged in their own complaint that GE had transferred 555 million euros ($590 million) of profit from the Belfort operation to Switzerland or the United States.

Unions accused management of trying to show the site was losing money in order to justify the job cuts at the site – depriving the French government of millions of euros in tax revenue in the process.

GE has denied the claims, saying it obeys the tax laws in every country where it operates. “Today at our site, the company is the subject of a search by the judicial police,” management wrote in an email to Belfort’s 4,000 employees cited by AFP. “These officers will be going through the offices, a normal procedure in this type of inquiry.”

($1 = 0.9406 euros)

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