France's trust ownership registry to be opened to the public

Thursday, 05 May 2016

The French government will soon make public the register of beneficial ownership of trusts it set up in 2013.

France's intentions were revealed in its submission to the G20/IMF top-level meeting last month.

The proposal is one of 13 set out by the country's Minister of Finance, Michel Sapin, to place France 'at the forefront of the fight against all forms of tax fraud, tax evasion and aggressive tax planning'. It encourages other countries to do likewise, though few other jurisdictions currently have compulsory registers of trusts.

The French trusts register was established in December 2013 by a law stated to be aimed at 'tax fraud and serious economic and financial crime'. It required trustees to make annual or event-triggered reports to the tax authorities if either the trustee, the settlor or one of the beneficiaries are French tax residents, or if any of the trust assets are located in France. Failure to comply is punishable by a fine of at least EUR20,000, or 12.5 per cent of trust assets, if higher.

This register has not yet been made public because no decree has been issued setting out the necessary consultation procedures. Sapin's announcement indicates it is imminent, though until the consultation has been held the extent to which information on individuals would be made public is not clear.


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