Three public accountants owe the Collectivité €1.8M

Because they did not collect on several tax accounts, three public accountants of the Collectivité were declared owing it. Then, they requested voluntary remittance.

Three public accountants of the Collectivité, having served respectively in 2003, in 2005 and 2006, and from 2007 to 2009, were judged owing the Collectivité by the Saint-Martin territorial chamber of audits. They owe €1,833,363 (777,857 + 814,077 + 214,428). The chamber had been seized by the financial prosecutor in 2011.

The prosecutor felt that “the public accountants failed to comply with obligations that fell to them with regard to the revenue orders they managed” and that “this might incur personal liability.” Specifically, they are accused of not recovering eleven orders for the amount of €2.14 Million from nine companies and to not have prosecuted any of the offenders from 1999 to 2005 for the amounts owed. And to have notified the bailiff too late as the revenue orders had been prescribed.

There were three orders due in 1999 and 2001 for “non completion of parking area” for €1.45 million owed by Société des hôtels Caraïbes and by Société Mob 2000; one order due in 2002 by Sindextour for “participating in construction” for €105,844; taxes on building permits due in 2005 by SCI du Dock and Macava-Sarl Cebis for the amount of €246,340; taxes for five vehicle leases due in 2001 and 2003 by Avis Mercury transport, Isabel, and Paradise Car Rental amounting to €328,287. These come out to €2.145M, which the three accountants owe.

However, after the investigation, it turns out that two orders owed by Isabel, one owed by Paradise Car Rental, and the one owed by SC du Dock had been treated with sufficient diligence that the amounts were collected or that the bad debt was established before the orders were prescribed.” Finally, the three accountants are responsible for €1.83 Million.

In their defense, the accountants claimed there were organizational problems within the department. One accountant highlighted “the difficulties he met on one hand trying to improve the accountant position that was ‘in a state of indescribable decay,’ and on the other hand trying to assess the orders in question.” The second accountant also mentioned “the difficulties in regulating the previous double entries in light of ‘the catastrophic state of the position,’ and in obtaining the signature on the third-party oppositions from the authorizing officer to collect the orders.”

The territorial chamber of audits had delivered its judgment in June 2013. The three accountants had then requested voluntary remittance from the Collectivité. In December 2015, La Direction Régionale des Finances Publiques (DRFIP) had then told the Collectivité that it had to submit its requests to the territorial council. By April 2017, the DRFIP had not received an answer from the Collectivité, so it called upon the Collectivité again to know if the voluntary remittance had been granted. The requests were finally considered last May by executive board who ruled against it.

Estelle Gasnet