Sernam SA, a French rail and road transport operator, must repay 642 million euros ($849 million) in illegal aid given by the French state to the former unit of state-owned railway operator Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Francais, or SNCF.
Sernam was ordered to pay back 41 million euros in 2004 and didn’t, prompting European Union regulators to open an investigation in 2008 that also covered the company’s spinoff in 2005, for which the French state provided 503 million euros to help in the restructuring, the European Commission said.
“The French authorities failed in their obligation to recover the 41 million euros in illegal aid,” the European Commission said today in a statement. Sernam must “reimburse that amount as well as all other aid which Sernam benefited from, or a total of over 642 million euros” plus interest.
Spokeswomen for the French Finance Ministry and Sernam declined to comment immediately on the decision.
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