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French Trust register not so public after all

Virginie Deflassieux, BDO Ltd, Guernsey, 17 August 2016


The register of France-connected trusts compiled by the French tax administration was opened to the public on 5 July 2016. This may be short-lived as a result of an injunction made before the Conseil d'Etat by an American who resides in France and who is a trust beneficiary.

Public access to the trust register is deemed to be in breach of Article 2 of the Déclaration des droits de l'Homme et du citoyen concerning the right to privacy. Public access to the register has been suspended as a result, pending a decision from the Conseil Constitutionnel which has been consulted on this issue by the Conseil d’Etat. The Conseil Constitutionnel has three months in which to respond.

The register is incomplete in any case. An enormous number of trustees are not only failing to register trust details but are also compeletly unaware of their new legal obligation to do so. This is especially true of trustees who are relatives of the HNW individuals in their trusts who are 'connected' to France. The French Government has dictated that the trustees of all France-connected trusts must dislcose all distributions to French residents and non-French residents alike, a very onerous duty. It is likely that a great many trustees who live in the United Kingdom and have only one relative living in France might still be oblivious.

* Virginie Deflassieux can be reached on +44 (0)1 481 724561 or at French.Tax@bdo.gg

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