investigation for discrimination against accidental Americans

A Parisian judge was seized on suspicion of discrimination reported by several dozen French people born in the United States, to whom certain online banks refused to open accounts for fear of reprisals from the American tax authorities, we learned on Wednesday from consistent sources.

Believing themselves to be victims of discrimination, the plaintiffs, nicknamed accidental Americans, had filed a complaint against X, with civil action, before the dean of the investigating judges at the Paris court in July 2020. Following this complaint, a Judicial investigation was opened in August 2021 for discrimination, confirmed to AFP a judicial source.

According to a source familiar with the matter, the investigation targets suspicions of discrimination based on origin, ethnicity or nationality, for acts committed between October 2018 and March 2019.

The dual nationality of these French people born in the United States, even if they have hardly ever lived in this country since then, poisons their existence because the American tax administration takes advantage of the Fatca law (Foreign account tax compliance act) applied in France since 2013 to demand that they declare their income in the United States.

In July 2019, French banks warned about the lack of agreement on the application of Fatca, which allows the United States to ask foreign banks for information on their customers considered to be Americans by exposing the banks to possible sanctions in case of refusal.

Discriminatory practices

There are discriminatory practices resulting from this regime, underlined Me Antoine Vey, the lawyer for around 70 civil parties, deploring that banks are under pressure from the United States to transmit information. Its customers have had disappointments, whether it is to open accounts or obtain loans and hope, with this survey, that the banks modify their practices.

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For fear of reprisals from the American justice system in the event of refusal to communicate information and potentially costly procedures, certain banking establishments prefer to prevent these French individuals from having access to their services.

A simple complaint was filed in 2019 by some 300 accidental Americans, but it did not lead to the opening of an investigation by the prosecutor.

In July 2019, the Council of State rejected the appeal brought by the Association of Accidental Americans, who contested Fatca, considering that the tax collaboration agreement between Paris and Washington was respectful of the law.

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