From 30 June the French trusts register can be accessed by using a number of search criteria, including the name of the trust, or identity of the trustee, settlor or beneficiaries.
France obtained this information as trustees of trusts which have a French connection, eg resident settlor, beneficiary and/or holding French assets, have been required to file reports with the French tax authorities since 1 January 2012. Failure to comply is punishable by a fine of at least EUR20,000, or 12.5 per cent of trust assets, if higher.
STEP is highly critical of the move, noting that the data was supplied for tax purposes in good faith, and with no permission for it to be made public.
There is no protection offered for details of vulnerable beneficiaries, such as children, elderly people, or those with limited mental capacity.
This information is strongly biased towards non-French structures, which are being treated on a different basis to French structures.
In addition, there has been no attempt to ensure that the information remains relevant or up to date; nor is there any facility to remove data that is no longer correct.