Orpea scandal: why the State decided to take legal action

“Regarding serious dysfunctions, we can tell you that the State is denouncing and arresting the Public Ministry based on article 40, because we take these serious dysfunctions into account.” These are the words of Brigitte Bourguignon, Delegate Minister for Autonomies, questioned this Saturday morning in France Inter on orpea scandalnamed after the Ehpad group seriously shaken since the publication of the investigation of the journalist Víctor Castanet.

What does the report say?

The investigation report, prepared by the General Inspectorate of Finance (IGF) and Social Affairs (IGAS) seized by the Government on February 1, denounces “significant dysfunctions in the organization of the group, to the detriment of the care of residents” . ”, the ministry said in a statement. Highly anticipated for weeks, this report, however, will not be made public because it is covered by “commercial secret”, Brigitte Bourguignon’s cabinet said. However, on March 11, the Minister of Health Olivier Véran had stated that he intended to publish part of this document, more precisely “everything, except what is covered by trade secret”.

The administrative investigations had been ordered as a result of the earthquake caused by the investigative book “Les Fossoyeurs”: its author, the journalist Victor Castanet, accuses Orpea of ​​having put in place a “system” to optimize its profits to the detriment of the well- be residents and employees.

The government is relying on article 40 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which obliges any authority to report to the courts any crime of which they are aware, the ministry said. The idea is, therefore, to “report” Orpea’s “financial practices” to the courts, “so that, if necessary, legal action can be taken against the group,” Brigitte Bourguignon’s services also specified.

Why does the State intend to claim money?

The State is thinking of asking Orpéa for reimbursement of public subsidies. “Not only are we filing a complaint, but we are also giving ourselves the right to request the restitution of public subsidies that have not been used for residents as they should,” adds the ministry.

The sums at stake are of the order of “several million” euros, the minister said on France Inter. Among them is “the lack of accounting monitoring of the surplus of public financing”, according to the ministry: it is suspected that the Orpea group has increased its profits by hiring fewer nursing staff than the public subsidies paid for this purpose allowed. , and keeping unspent funds. Orpea is also suspected of “artificially increasing the cost of purchases financed with public money”, through a system of “year-end discounts” granted by its suppliers. “We can’t have fun making money with the elderly,” Brigitte Bourguignon scolded.

VIDEO. ORPEA scandal: “They offered me 15 million euros to stop my investigation into nursing homes”

“The families of the neighbors and the employees who participated in my investigation are delighted that the State has come today to confirm the revelations” of the “Gravediggers” and “decided to take legal action”, the author of the book reacted to AFP, Victor. Castanet. But “they do not understand the non-publication of this report,” added Víctor Castanet. “The trade secret argument has been opposed to me throughout my three years of research” and “again, this vague notion protects a private group to the detriment of the general interest,” he lamented.

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