European Court judgement:

Public beneficial owner registers incompatible with fundamental EU freedoms

Lisa Cornwell
Partner, Private Clients & Family Offices - International, PwC Switzerland

Samantha Geldart
Senior Manager, Private Clients & Family Offices - UK/International, PwC Switzerland

The beginning of the end for publicly accessible beneficial ownership registers?

Over the past few years, when establishing private wealth vehicles, in addition to the broader tax, succession and asset protection matters, a key topic for consideration has been what information is publicly available about the beneficial owners.  Successive jurisdictions have introduced requirements to share extensive information about the beneficial owners and in many cases, this has been fully available publicly.

On the 22 November 2022, the Court of Justice of the EU held that “the provision of the anti-money-laundering directive whereby Member States must ensure that the information on the beneficial ownership of corporate and other legal entities incorporated within their territory is accessible in all cases to any member of the general public is invalid.” Essentially this ruling holds that the drive for transparency cannot come at the expense of an individual’s fundamental right to personal data protection.

More information can be found in this EU Press Release and in the full text of the judgement

How we can help

As advisors to wealthy and often high profile families with international footprints, we support our clients to ensure that authorities have all information required to demonstrate that tax and AML responsibilities are met and that consistent information is shared. However, having beneficial ownership information available to the public has been of increasing concern for many of our clients- some of whom have faced threats to their personal security and fraud attempts based on information held on public registers - so this is a hugely significant judgement.

In addition to the impact on beneficial owner registers within the EU, this judgement may also have a broader impact, for example in relation to non-EU beneficial owner registers (such as in the UK and other overseas territories that have followed the lead of the EU in this area.)

If you have any individuals, families or family offices who would like to know more about how we can help them with managing any aspect of their personal wealth, please reach out. 


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Contact us

Lisa Cornwell

Lisa Cornwell

Partner, Private Clients & Family Offices - International, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 25 93

Samantha Geldart

Samantha Geldart

Senior Manager, Private Clients & Family Offices - UK/International, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 24 02

Lukas  Kummer

Lukas Kummer

Senior Manager, Private Clients and Family Offices, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 13 52

Sophie Limbioul

Sophie Limbioul

Senior Manager, Private & Family Offices Romandie, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 81 83