Accusation of doctored balance sheets: McDonald's escapes the process with a billion-dollar payment

Systematically, McDonald's is said to have smuggled license fees past the tax authorities.

Accusation of doctored balance sheets: McDonald's escapes the process with a billion-dollar payment

Systematically, McDonald's is said to have smuggled license fees past the tax authorities. The fast food giant has been under investigation in France for years. With a billion payment, the group is now preventing a possible process - but without "acknowledging guilt".

The fast-food group McDonald's pays 1.25 billion euros in France and thus avoids a tax process. According to the agreement, which a court in Paris accepted, McDonald's will pay €737 million in back taxes in addition to €508 million. The company had been accused of reporting artificially low profits between 2009 and 2020 in order to lower its tax burden.

Investigators from the financial prosecutor's office had investigated the suspicion that the license fees that McDonald's France paid to its European parent company in Luxembourg for using the chain's brand might have served to artificially reduce profits.

At the beginning of 2016, the financial prosecutor's office had already launched preliminary investigations after union representatives had filed a lawsuit against McDonald's France for organized tax fraud. According to the information at the time, it was about an annual amount of 75 million euros. With the comparison, the investigations are now closed.

McDonald's is one of several multinationals under investigation in Europe for alleged profit shifting or tax avoidance. McDonald's welcomed the fact that the agreement ended the tax case "without acknowledgment of guilt". At the same time, the company pointed out that it had already paid 2.2 billion euros in taxes during the period in question.

France is one of the countries where McDonald's enjoys great popularity. According to the company's French website, there are about 1,500 restaurants there. Most of these restaurants are franchised, paying a license fee to McDonald's for use of the brand and for things like data systems, restaurant decor, and staff training.

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