Crown Dependencies reconsider public registers of beneficial ownership
The governments of Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Jersey have jointly announced that they are delaying the implementation of legislation to implement full public access to registers of company beneficial ownership, following the Court of Justice of the European Union's (CJEU’s) decision in cases C-37/20 and C-601/20.
In 2019, the Crown Dependencies committed to implementing the public registers by 2023, following the UK government’s creation of a publicly accessible register of persons with significant control. At a similar time, the European Union adopted the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD), requiring EU Member States to open their company beneficial ownership registers to the general public.
This measure of 5AMLD was undermined in November 2022 by the CJEU’s ruling that unrestricted public access to such information is a disproportionate infringement on individuals' privacy under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Several EU Member States, including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg and Malta, have already taken action to limit access to their registers only to professionals.
The Crown Dependencies' governments are now taking legal advice on their course of action, a process that they expect to complete early in 2023.
'We have all committed to provide access to obliged entities for the purpose of conducting customer due diligence by the end of 2022 and have therefore consulted on the position and produced policy positions', says the joint statement. 'However, in light of this CJEU judgment, implementation of this legislation will be delayed for a short period to enable consideration of its impact and obtain specialist legal advice...Subject to that advice, our intention is to adopt legislation in our respective jurisdictions as soon as possible after this time. In respect of extending access beyond obliged entities, we intend to obtain expert legal advice on all relevant issues and, in due course, intend to review the public commitment in line with that advice and any recent development of international best practice.'
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