Countries/Jurisdictions of Primary Concern - France

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Report

Due to its sizeable economy, political stability, sophisticated financial system and commercial relations, especially with Francophone countries, France is a venue for money laundering. Public corruption, narcotics and human trafficking, smuggling, and other crimes associated with organized crime are sources of illicit proceeds.

France can designate portions of its customs territory as free trade zones and free warehouses in return for employment commitments. The French Customs Service administers these zones. France has an informal economic sector, and underground remittance and value transfer systems such as hawala are used by immigrant populations accustomed to such systems in their home countries. There is little information on the scale of such activity.

Casinos are regulated. The use of virtual money is growing in France through online gaming and social networks. Sport teams have become another significant source of money laundering.

For additional information focusing on terrorist financing, please refer to the Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism, which can be found at: //2009-2017.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/

Do FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONs engage in currency transactions related to international narcotics trafficking that include significant amounts of US currency; currency derived from illegal sales in the U.S.; or illegal drug sales that otherwise significantly affect the U.S.: NO

criminalizATION OF money laundering:

“All serious crimes” approach or “list” approach to predicate crimes: All serious crimes

Are legal persons covered: criminally: YES civilly: YES

Know-your-customer (KYC) rules:

Enhanced due diligence procedures for PEPs: Foreign: YES Domestic: YES

KYC covered entities: Banks, credit and money-issuing institutions, e-money institutions, investment firms, money exchangers, investment management companies, mutual insurers and benefit institutions, insurance intermediaries and dealers, notaries, receivers and trustees in bankruptcy, financial investment advisors, real estate brokers, chartered accountants, auditors, dealers in high-value goods, auctioneers and auction houses, bailiffs, lawyers, participants in stock exchange settlement and delivery, commercial registered office providers, gaming centers, companies involved in sports betting and horse racing tips, and casinos

REPORTING REQUIREMENTS:

Number of STRs received and time frame: 38,419 in 2014

Number of CTRs received and time frame: Not applicable

STR covered entities: Banks, credit and money-issuing institutions, e-money institutions, investment firms, money exchangers, investment management companies, mutual insurers and benefit institutions, insurance intermediaries and dealers, notaries, receivers and trustees in bankruptcy, financial investment advisors, real estate brokers, chartered accountants, auditors, dealers in high-value goods, auctioneers and auction houses, bailiffs, lawyers, participants in stock exchange settlement and delivery, commercial registered office providers, gaming centers, companies involved in sports betting and horse racing tips, and casinos

money laundering criminal Prosecutions/convictions:

Prosecutions: 464 in 2014

Convictions: 424 in 2013

Records exchange mechanism:

With U.S.: MLAT: YES Other mechanism: YES

With other governments/jurisdictions: YES

France is a member of the FATF. Its most recent mutual evaluation can be found at: http://www.fatf-gafi.org/countries/d-i/france/

Enforcement and implementation issues and comments:

Two months after the January 2015 attacks in Paris against the Charlie Hebdo weekly newspaper and a kosher supermarket, the government announced a counter-terror plan that includes eight principal CFT measures divided into three pillars that promote additional AML/CFT countermeasures.

The first pillar focuses on “identification” and aims at reducing anonymity in the economy in order to facilitate the tracking of suspicious transactions. In a decree published in June 2015 (effective September 1, 2015), France lowered the limit on cash transactions to €1,000 (approximately $1,100) from €3,000 (approximately $3,300). For non-residents, the limit on cash payments will be lowered from €15,000 (approximately $16,500) to €10,000 (approximately $11,000). Acquiring, reloading, and using prepaid cards also will become subject to new reporting requirements. In the first quarter of 2016, an identity document (ID) will be required to buy, use, or reload a prepaid card when the transaction exceeds €250 (approximately $275). In France, identity cards are not currently verified for non-rechargeable cards of less than €250 (approximately $275) or for rechargeable cards of up to €2,500 (approximately $2,750).

The “surveillance” pillar is designed to increase the exercise of due diligence by the financial community. As part of this pillar “Nickel” accounts, low-cost financial accounts that can be opened at tobacco shops, will have to be registered in the centralized national bank account register as of January 1, 2016. There are approximately 80,000 Nickel accounts in France. Additionally, currently it is possible to exchange up to €8,000 (approximately $8,800) in currency anonymously, but as of January 1, 2016, ID will be required for foreign exchange transactions exceeding €1,000 (approximately $1,100). Furthermore, financial institutions will have to increase vigilance over “transactions of unusually high sums” by checking the origin of the funds, the recipient’s identity, and the grounds for the transaction. In November 2015, the French banking regulator, the Prudential Control Authority (ACPR) and TracFin, the French financial intelligence unit (FIU), issued new joint guidelines about vigilance and suspicious transaction reporting (STR) obligations. A decree will be enacted on January 1, 2016, requiring banks to automatically notify TracFin of deposits and/or withdrawals of more than €10,000 (approximately $11,200) in a month. The current obligation to inform French Customs of the physical transfer of funds to and/or from another EU country by natural persons when the amount exceeds €10,000 (approximately $11,200) will be extended to apply to freight and express freight in the first quarter of 2016. A pending bill on “Freedom of Creation and Cultural Heritage” would combat illegal trade in cultural products, like antiquities.

The “action” pillar reinforces capacities created to freeze terrorist assets. This pillar expands the government’s ability to freeze the assets of entities or individuals deemed to be engaged in or planning terrorist acts. On November 23, 2015, the Finance Minister said TracFin would be authorized to track suspects’ financial activity in real time. He confirmed that asset freezes will apply to movable and immovable assets, and to social/welfare benefits. The financial market authority will see expanded capacities to sanction inside trading.

COSI, the Systematic Communication of Funds Transfer Information, is a system created to improve financial information available to TracFin from designated professionals and institutions. Effective in January 2016, COSI reporting will apply to transfers of more than €10,000 (approximately $11,200) in a calendar month. The COSI is different from traditional suspicious transaction reports (STRs) as it cannot be used by TracFin to initiate investigations. It does not exempt institutions from their obligations to submit STRs.

In February 2015, the ACPR updated its guidelines specific to the insurance sector. TracFin continues to examine ways new anonymous electronic payment instruments, gold, and employee meal tickets (restaurant vouchers provided by employers) are used as alternatives to cash. TracFin also continues its focus on tax and social benefits fraud.

The Government of France applies the EU directive by which politically exposed persons (PEPs) from EU states may benefit from simplified vigilance procedures, but only in a limited number of cases. France should review its procedures to ensure all PEPs undergo enhanced due diligence. France should examine AML reporting requirements of company registration agents, real estate agents, jewelers, casinos, and lawyers to ensure they are complying with their obligations under the law.