The European Court of Justice has declared invalid the part of the European Anti-Money Laundering Directive that requires information on the beneficial ownership of companies to be publicly accessible.
This was confirmed by a note that appeared on the website of the MBR Malta Business Registry, in which the Supervisory and Control Authority, deemed to bring to the public’s attention the provision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in its judgment delivered on November 22, 2022, in cases C-37/20 Luxembourg business registers and C-601/20 Sovim.
The note published by MBR, in referring to the court case, pointed out that the European Court of Justice has declared invalid the provision of the Anti-Money Laundering Directive under which member states shall ensure that information on the beneficial ownership of companies and other legal entities incorporated in their territory is accessible to the public in all cases.
Why the Anti-Money Laundering Directive infringes on rights
In the opinion of the Court, public access to information on beneficial ownership constitutes a serious interference with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and the protection of personal data as laid down in Articles 7 and 8 of the aforementioned provision.
The information disclosed allows a potentially unlimited number of persons to obtain information on the beneficial owner’s material and financial situation.
Moreover, the potential consequences for data subjects of any misuse of their data are aggravated by the fact that once made available to the public, such data may not only be freely accessed but also stored and disseminated.
The ruling is bound to have a significant impact on all European countries that, at different times and in different ways, have set up a register containing information on the beneficial owners of companies and trusts.
Finally, the MBR’s note states that “since the judgment has the effect of invalidating the relevant part of the aforementioned Directive, the Malta Business Register is restricting access to the beneficial owners’ register only to the competent authorities and interested parties.