In November 2022, the Court of Justice of the European Union invalidated a provision the EU’s 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive that allowed access by the general public to information on the beneficial owners of companies. The Court held that public access to BO data would violate the right to privacy that is well enshrined in the EU.
The decision impacts the ability of member states to put their BO registries on the internet, and at first glance this looked like a blow to AML compliance efforts across the continent. But the ruling lets stand the ability of EU governments to provide BO registry data on a selective basis—for example, to financial institutions and other regulated industries with a need to know. This is more in line with, say, FinCEN’s plans to establish a BO registry with clear rules for use by government agencies and the private sector.