The CEO of the Avec group (ex-Doctegestio), which notably manages the Grenoble mutual clinic, was placed in police custody on Monday because he is suspected of illegal taking of interest and embezzlement of public funds, announced the Grenoble public prosecutor’s office. Bernard Bensaid, 61, was arrested Monday morning in Paris and “will be brought back to Grenoble” to be heard there, said the prosecution, also specifying that the headquarters of Avec in Vincennes (Val-de-Marne) had been searched. The prosecution also confirmed information from the daily Le Dauphiné Libéré relating to a search of the home of Bernard Bensaid.
This announcement coincides with a strike by employees of the Grenoble clinic on Monday, when a board of directors (CA) was to be held to record a new loan for the benefit of the group Avec, in the amount of 2.7 million euros. euros. The CA was finally adjourned. “This new loan should bring the loans” to Avec since 2022 to 10.7 million euros, and “to date, only 1.5 million have been repaid”, denounced the FO union, for whom Avec, “in a catastrophic financial situation”, “risks dragging down in its fall” the GHM (Grenoble mutual hospital group). The GHM has a thousand employees and 400 beds.
“The maintenance and survival of the GHM are now at stake”
On June 16, 2022, FO and the CGT had filed a complaint against X for “illegal taking of interest” and “embezzlement”, claiming that several million euros would have been transferred from the Grenoble clinic to Avec via service agreements and interest-free loans. “The maintenance and survival of the GHM are now at stake,” said Nicolas Albin, president of the medical commission of the GHM, who is worried about a “cash tension” in particular for the purchase of medical equipment. Several hundred people, GHM employees, unions and elected officials, gathered in front of the clinic on Monday at midday.
The associations of users of the GHM expressed to AFP their “relief” at the police custody of the president of the clinic. “This is very good news, the looting of public money must stop,” said Philippe Beaufort, general secretary of FO Isère. “But Bernard Bensaid still has the checkbook,” warned Thierry Carron, secretary of FO and the CSE of the clinic. Bernard Bensaid, who left his position as general manager of the clinic on July 1, which he had held since its takeover in 2020, is still its president. A new CEO is due to arrive on February 7.
KPMG has issued three economic alerts
The auditor of the clinic, the firm KPMG, launched three economic alerts in the face of the financial situation of the establishment. A report must be presented at a general meeting on January 17, while unions and local elected officials intend to ask the Regional Health Agency (ARS) to place the clinic under supervision. The mutual clinic was sold in October 2020 by the AESIO and MFI mutuals to Doctegestio, which has since become Avec. Unions and user associations were opposed to this takeover, believing that it did not meet the non-profit vocation of the clinic. A legal procedure, still in progress, had been initiated by the unions, the City and the Metropolis of Grenoble to have the operation canceled.
“With 12,000 employees in France and 400 establishments, the Avec group ranks in the top 10 of French groups involved in care”, according to the company. The group “specialized in the recovery and support for structures in difficulty”, posted a turnover of 630 million euros for 2021.
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