France investigates Ryanair over taxes

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A French prosecutor is investigating the cut-price airline Ryanair for allegedly evading up to €4.5m (£3.9m) in payroll taxes in France. The Dublin-based carrier, which is already involved in tit-for-tat lawsuits with Air France about public subsidies, is suspected of employing 120 people in France on Irish contracts. Under EU law, this is permitted only for short periods or if the employee genuinely works in more than one country.

French officials, who recently raided Ryanair's offices at Marseilles airport, suspect that has 120 full-time workers in France, include 30 pilots, and pays their social charges in Ireland. French social security and other payroll taxes are up to three times higher than those in Ireland and fall especially hard on the employer.

The airline said it had not been told about the investigation and could not comment.