In a landmark judgment, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has declared invalid the provision of the Anti-Money Laundering Directive that requires Member States to provide public access to beneficial ownership registers.

According to the CJEU, the general public’s access to information on beneficial ownership, provided for in the Directive, constitutes a serious interference with the fundamental rights guaranteed in Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, namely, the rights to respect for private life and the protection of personal data.

The CJEU recognised that the Directive seeks to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing which constitutes an objective of general interest that is capable of justifying even serious interferences with the fundamental rights protected by Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter. These are not absolute rights and subject to the principle of proportionality, limitations may be made on those rights if these are deemed necessary.

However, the CJEU, took the view that the interference with the rights enshrined in Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter resulting from the general public’s access to information on beneficial ownership was not strictly necessary nor proportionate to the aims pursued by the Directive.

In light of the judgment, the Cyprus Bar Association has requested from the Registrar of Companies to immediately suspend the possibility of the public having access to the information relating to beneficial ownership until the relevant regulations are examined and implemented.

Our dedicated Data Protection and Privacy team together with our Dispute Resolution team are ready to assist you with any matter relating to the above.

For the CJEU judgment press here.

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