With: The CEO of the health and addiction giant has been taken into police custody

With: The CEO of the health and addiction giant has been taken into police custody

The CEO of the Avec Group (formerly Doctegestio), which runs privately the Grenoble joint clinic, was placed in police custody on Monday on suspicion of illegal interest-taking and misappropriation of public funds, the Public Prosecution Service of Grenoble announced. The prosecution said that Bernard Ben Said, 61, was arrested on Monday morning in Paris and “will return to Grenoble” to be heard there, noting that the headquarters of AVIC in Vincennes (Val-de-Marne) were searched.

The prosecution also confirmed information from Le Dauphiné Libéré newspaper regarding the search of Bernard Ben Said’s house. This announcement coincides with a strike by the staff of the Clinic of Grenoble on Monday, when the Board of Directors (CA) was scheduled to register a new loan in favor of the Avec Group, for the amount of 2.7 million euros. CA is finally postponed.

“This new loan should bring the loans” to Avec since 2022 to 10.7 million euros, and “so far, only 1.5 million euros have been repaid,” he denounced the FO, for which Avec, “is in a catastrophic financial situation,” he denounced. Risks of withdrawing “GHM (Grenoble Combined Hospital Group).

On June 16, 2022, the FO and the CGT filed a complaint against X for “unlawful interest-taking” and “embezzlement”, claiming that several million euros were transferred from the Clinic Grenoble to Avec via service agreements and interest-free loans. “Now the maintenance and survival of GHM is at stake,” said Nicholas Albin, chair of the GHM Medical Committee, who is concerned about a “monetary strain” in particular for the purchase of medical equipment.

Satisfied staff

Several hundred people, GHM employees, unions and elected officials gathered in front of the clinic Monday afternoon. GHM users’ associations told AFP they were “satisfied” with the police custody of the clinic’s chief. “This is very good news, the plundering of public money must stop,” said Philippe Beaufort, Secretary General of Fo Isère. But Bernard Ben Said still has the checkbook,” warns Thierry Caron, FO and CSE secretary at the clinic.

Bernard Ben Said, who left his position as general manager of the clinic on July 1, and which he has held since its takeover in 2020, remains its chairman. A new CEO is due to arrive on February 7th.

The clinic’s auditor, KPMG, issued three economic alerts in the face of the facility’s financial condition. A report must be submitted at a public meeting on January 17, while unions and local elected officials intend to ask the Regional Health Agency (ARS) to put the clinic under supervision.

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Controversial rebound in 2020

Mutual Clinic was sold in October 2020 by Mutual AESIO and MFI to Doctegestio, which has since become Avec. Unions and user associations opposed this acquisition, believing it did not fulfill the non-profit mission of the clinic. The unions and the City and City of Grenoble have initiated a legal action, still in progress, to have the operation overturned. “With 12,000 employees in France and 400 establishments, the Avec group ranks among the top 10 French groups operating in the field of care,” according to the company.

The group, “specializing in the repair and support of structures in difficulty,” recorded a turnover of 630 million euros for the year 2021.

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