Jan 22 - McDonald's France has confirmed tax inspectors visited its local headquarters but has denied wrongdoing after French media reported it had transferred over 2.2 billion euros ($3 billion) abroad since 2009 to dodge taxes. Melanie Ralph reports
A crackdown on international companies shifting their tax burdens abroad was one of President Hollande's key pledges. But France's Finance Minister wasn't saying if a recent visit by tax inspectors to McDonald's French headquarters was linked to the crackdown. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH FINANCE MINISTER PIERRE MOSCOVICI SAYING: "You asked me a question on a taxation affair on which I can't speak because of the confidentiality rules in fiscal matters, but let me assure you that my ministry's staff is particularly watchful on all behavior by companies." A French business website says the U.S. hamburger chain has been transferring money to Switzerland and Luxembourg since 2009 to dodge France's 33% corporate tax rate. L'Expansion says inspectors visited the headquarters in October as part of their investigation. They suspected that between 330 and 650 million euros of revenue was being transferred every year - making a total of $2.2 billion euros. McDonald's France denies any wrongdoing. It says it's paid 1 billion euros to the state since 2009 - taxes for the group and its 314 franchises. It also says the inspectors' visit was routine. McDonald's isn't the first corporate giant to be questioned over tax. Last year Starbucks was involved in a similar row in the UK. Such crackdowns generally go down well with voters and France's most unpopular President needs all the help he can get.