The procedure could have gone unnoticed. According to information from Echoes, the young American boss of the Californian company Snap, was naturalized French in September 2018. In the middle of a 30-page decree published in the Official newspaper, which lists the names of more than 700 naturalized foreigners, including Evan Spiegel and his 1.5-year-old son Hart Spiegel.
The CEO of the ephemeral video and photo sharing application Snapchat, however, does not reside in France, nor are there ancestors. His wife and mother of their son, the model Miranda Kerr, is Australian. Francophile claimed, Evan Spiegel has strong ties with the country of Enlightenment, whose language he has been learning for several years.
This naturalization was permitted by a so-called foreigner procedure, as part of the contribution to “Influence of France”. Codified in 1993 in article 21-21 of the civil code, it allows the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to naturalize “A French-speaking foreigner who requests it and who contributes through his distinguished action to the influence of France and to the prosperity of international economic relations. ” Its use is rare: “Ten to twenty naturalization application files under [cet article] are reviewed annually “, according to a diplomatic source in the Echoes, which does not specify how many end up.
The echoes have not found other examples of entrepreneurs naturalized by this process, but the government sometimes uses it for athletes. South African rugby player Maks Van Dyk became French in September, as did American novelist Jonathan Littell. The law conditions naturalization to a habitual residence of at least five years in France, a period which can in some cases be reduced to two years.
“Assimilation [de son séjour à l’étranger] at a residence “
Evan Spiegel, who lives in Los Angeles County, received a “assimilation [de son séjour à l’étranger] at a residence “, details the Quai d'Orsay at Les Echos. A device, provided for in article 21-26 of the civil code, which can be used to “A foreigner who exercises a public or private professional activity on behalf of the French State or an organization whose activity is of particular interest for the French economy or culture”.
Asked about the criteria used to judge that Snap “Contributes to the influence of France” and “Is of particular interest to the French economy or culture”, the Quai d'Orsay answers that it “Not used” to comment in more detail on individual files. The same goes for the naturalization of the entrepreneur’s son.
The French government seems to have opted for a flexible interpretation of the texts. Criteria for assessing the concept of organization presenting “A particular interest in the French economy or culture” were clarified by the government in 2002, after a question from the senator of the French abroad, Christian Cointat. The ministry of employment had evoked “Foreigners exercising functions in a French cooperation body or on behalf of French delegations within certain international organizations […], organizations promoting the export of goods or services of French origin […], finally teaching or research establishments, associations or institutions participating in the cultural influence of our country “. Cases that seem quite distant from that of Snap.
Friendship ties with Xavier Niel
The investigation of Echoes recalls the ties of friendship that unite the 29-year-old boss with that of Free. Xavier Niel[shareholderof[actionnairedu[shareholderof[actionnaireduWorld as an individual]regularly hosts Mr. Spiegel at home when he comes to Paris, especially to see start-ups. The young billionaire also took part in a short video touting the methods of 42, Mr. Niel’s computer school. He is also close to other CEOs of major French groups.
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