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France Opens Register Of Trusts

Friday, July 8, 2016

On July 5, French Minister of Finance Michel Sapin and Budget Secretary Christian Eckert announced the launch of France's public registry of trusts, a measure intended to increase transparency and curb tax avoidance.

France's register of trusts provides access to information on trust arrangements when at least one of the settlors, beneficiaries, or administrators has its fiscal domicile in France, or the arrangement involves an asset or a right situated in the country. Currently, 16,000 entities are identified as trusts and are known to the French tax authorities, according to the Ministry of Finance.

France has decided to make its registry of trusts public, meaning that any person with a tax number and an access code can search the register.

Legislation currently in the Senate will provide for a similar register of the beneficial owners of companies.

Commenting on the launch of the trusts registry, Sapin argued that the practice of obscuring beneficial ownership of companies and trusts behind complex corporate structures "must stop" in the interests of tax and legal transparency.

"Knowledge of the beneficial owner of any entity should be the rule," he said.