Coup by the EU Court of Justice against money laundering: part of the European directive rejected

A blow to the European directive against atanti-money laundering. It is the one arrived from the last sentence of the court of Justice EUgathered in Big section. This is the institution created to ensure compliance the interpretation and the application of community law by the member countries. On Tuesday 22 November the judges of the Luxembourg have considered invalid the provision of the Directive for which the States ensure that the information on effective ownership of companies and other legal entities incorporated in their territory are in any case accessible to the public.

The ruling concerns the story of a company and its owner who had sued the Luxembourg Company Registerrequesting that access to company beneficial ownership information be restricted. According to the Court, public access to information on effective ownership constitutes a “serious interference in the fundamental rights respect for private life and the protection of personal data”. In fact, the judges observe, the information disclosed allow a number “potentially unlimited” of people to inquire about the material and financial situation of the beneficial owner. Furthermore, the potential consequences for the data subjects resulting from a possible abusive use of their personal data are aggravated by the fact that, once made available to the public, the data may not only be freely consultedbut also preserved and disseminated.

The Court recognizes that, with this measure, the EU legislator aims to prevent the recycling from money and terrorist financing, creating a more transparent and less conducive environment for similar operations. An objective of general interest, according to the judges of Luxembourg. However, ensure public access to data on beneficial ownership of registered companies in any case and without limits, the court is “neither limited to what is strictly necessary nor proportionate to the objective pursued”.

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