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Algeria. Stock photo from Pexels

French pensions paid to the dead in the Maghreb

When retirees or couples of retirees return to North Africa, the poor record of civil status allows widows not to declare the death of their husband and to continue to receive his French retirement pension.

Published: December 15, 2019, 6:01 am

    Paris

    The pension fraud costs hundreds of millions of euros each year, a bill which French taxpayers must  foot through its social welfare system. According to French weekly Capital, the fraud was discovered by Rolande Ruellan, the former president of the 6th chamber of the Court of Auditors, in 2010.

    Everything started when he expressed his astonishment about the “longevity of Algerian nationals benefiting from a retirement French in Algeria”. It must be said that “the number of Algerian pensioners centenarians registered in our pension funds” was sometimes higher than that of the centenarians identified by Algeria.

    In 2017, the 6th Chamber of the Court of Auditors released an investigation along the lines of the discovery of Rolande Ruellan. The study thus confirmed the existence of many retirees aged over 115 years in Algeria, but not only that. The document, according to Capital, also highlights the many inconsistencies that has been found in the files of the French social security funds and the lack of checks carried out.

    What is certain is that 1,25 million pensioners assisted by Social Security live abroad, of which almost 40 percent in the Maghreb. Each year, France pays them a total of 6,5 billion euros per year.

    Two tests were carried out in order to uncover possible fraud. The first resulted in the elimination of 30 payments on a hundred files screened. The results of the second are equivalent. To receive a pension, a “life certificate” sent to the social security funds is sufficient. According to the testimony of an Algerian official, this certificate would be the subject of trafficking in which the local authorities would take their share.

    However, it is difficult to precisely quantify the extent of the fraud. Excellcium, a company specializing in the fight against fraud on behalf of banks, insurance companies and supplementary retirement organisations, carried out a mission in the field in Southern Europe and North Africa.

    “At each stage of our investigations, we came across the same thing: failure to transmit civil status data, refusal of access to the archives of the French caisses, abnormally long response times from local administrations. We had to fight to get the information,” Pierre-Alexandre Rocoffort de Vinnière, the president of Excellcium told Capital.

    Of the first 200 suspect files studied, barely 49 were related to living retirees.

    Earlier this year, parliamentarians Carole Grandjean (LREM) and Nathalie Goulet (UDI) compiled a pre-report and proposals to better fight against social fraud.

    According to Nathalie Goulet, all the open debates on social fraud have ended up producing very divergent reports. “Edouard Philippe, by appointing the deputy LREM Carole Grandjean and myself, wanted to put an end to this taboo of social fraud. The sole objective of our mission is to get a clear and objective idea of ​​the extent of social fraud in France,” she explained.

    The subject became taboo because “immediately the press says that we stigmatize the poor” Goulet said. The mainstream media call it “survival fraud”. But she said “there are people who declare 70 children” to defraud the system.

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