Court Rules an Employee whose Shares in a Company Are Held by a 102 Trustee Has No Shareholder Rights in the Company
The Haifa District Court recently handed down a precedential decision. According to the decision, an employee who received shares in a company held by a trustee in accordance with section 102 of the Income Tax Ordinance has no shareholder rights.
At the core of the court ruling, the court considered the issue of the rights of an employee who entrusts shares with a trustee under section 102 of the Ordinance. Additionally, it considered the rights and duties of such a trustee in terms of the tax authorities, the employee, and the employer.
An employee of Sol Chip was allocated 102 options that were entrusted with a 102 trustee in accordance with the provisions of the Income Tax Ordinance. Over time, the employee converted these options to shares and the shares continued to “sit” in trust with the 102 trustee.
The employee applied to the court, seeking to affirm his ownership of the shares. An owner is entitled to review the company’s minutes, articles of association, financial reports, and more. Thus, the employee sought affirmation that he is a regular shareholder and entitled to all the rights a company shareholder is entitled to under the Companies Law.
The court ruled that once the shares were entrusted with a 102 trustee, the trustee shall act as such for any purpose and not only for purposes under the Income Tax Ordinance. He thus is subject to the provisions of the Trust Law. Accordingly, the 102 trustee holds the rights in the shares until the date the shares are conveyed to the employee.
As a result, the court did not find in favor of the approach whereby a 102 trust merely deprives an employee of the ability to trade the shares and the rest of the rights effectively remain with the employee.
As long as, the court explained, the trustee does not convey the shares to the employee, the employee has no rights in the shares. He only has rights vis-à-vis the trustee under the trust agreement.