EU Court orders closure of the Ultimate Beneficial Owner Registry to the public
On 22 November 2022 the European Court of Justice ruled that making personal data available to third parties constitutes an interference with Article 7 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights which safeguards protection of the right for private life, family life and communications as well as with Article 8 which safeguards protection of personal data.
In particular, although the Court accepted that the EU legislature by allowing public access to sensitive information “seeks to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing by creating, by means of increased transparency, an environment less likely to be used for those purposes” it concluded that the measure goes beyond what is strictly necessary and is disproportionate to the objective pursued.
This ruling has already been considered by the Cyprus Registrar of Companies (the “Registrar”) in which the beneficial owner registry is maintained. On 28 November 2022 the Registrar issued an announcement whereby it “suspends access to the beneficial registry for the general public” and retains the right of the obliged entities to be provided with relevant information on the beneficial owner “by submitting a solemn declaration confirming that the information on the Beneficial Owners is requested within the context of performing customer due diligence”.