France latest European country to block coronavirus bailouts for firms with offshore tax havens

PUBLISHED: 16:59 24 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:18 24 April 2020

French president Emmanuel Macron's government has banned firms with offshore tax havens from accessing coronavirus bail-out funds. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

French president Emmanuel Macron's government has banned firms with offshore tax havens from accessing coronavirus bail-out funds. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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France has blocked companies with offshore tax havens from accessing up to €110 billion (£96 billion) in government coronavirus bailouts.

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France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire has moved in line with European counterparts in Denmark and Poland, who recently introduced legislation prohibiting tax-avoidant firms from accessing vital coronavirus bailout funds.

He told radio station France Info: “It goes without saying that if a company has its tax headquarters or subsidiaries in a tax haven, I want to say with great force, it will not be able to benefit from state financial aid.

“There are rules that must be followed. If you have benefited from the state treasury, you cannot pay dividends and you cannot buy back shares,

“And if your head office is located in a tax haven, it is obvious that you cannot benefit from public support.”

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Emmanuel Macron’s government will legalise the move through a finance bill with the help of senators from the Centrist Union group - a clutch of liberal-moderate politicians - on Monday.

Many Britons have supported the move on Twitter. One person wrote: “Excellent strategy. Why don’t we have the balls to do the same? Maybe because many Tories and Tory donors use offshore tax havens?”

Another said: “@10DowningStreet must follow this example. This is a fantastic opportunity to tell all these tax dodging companies to claim financial assistance from their country that supports their tax exile status.”

Calls for the UK to follow suit has gathered pace and a petition is now circulating on an official government website with 1,000 signatures. You can access it here.

Poland introduced similar measures on April 8 while Denmark followed suit on Saturday.

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