Register of Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO)
Companies and legal entities incorporated and/or registered in Cyprus are obliged to submit all relevant information regarding their Beneficial Owner(s).
This obligation erupted from Article 61A of the Prevention and Suppression of Money laundering and Terrorist Financing Law 188 (2007) (L. 188(I)/2007) as amended on the 23rd of February 2021 (amending Law 13(I)2021) and from the AML Directive 112/2021 which was issued based on Article 61A (L. 188(I)/2007) which came into force on the 12th of March 2021.
Both the amending Law 13(I)2021 and AML Directive 112/2021 were established to fully implement the Directive 2018/843 (the AML Directive) of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30th of May 2018.
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in its judgement dated 22.11.22, in Joined C 37/20 and C 601/20, WM, Sovim SA v. Luxembourg Business Registers, decided that “Article 1(15)(c) of Directive (EU) 2018/843 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive (EU) 2015/849 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing, and amending Directives 2009/138/EC and 2013/36/EU, is invalid in so far as it amended point (c) of the first subparagraph of Article 30(5) of Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing, amending Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Directive 2006/70/EC, in such a way that point (c) of the first subparagraph of Article 30(5), as thus amended, provides that Member States must ensure that information on the beneficial ownership of companies and of other legal entities incorporated within their territory is accessible in all cases to any member of the general public”.
According to the CJEU, the optional provisions of Article 30(5a) and (9) of Directive 2015/849 as amended, which allow the Member States to make personal information on the beneficial ownership available for access by the general public are incapable of establishing either a fair balance between the aim of general interest pursued and the fundamental rights under Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter, or to effectively safeguard personal data from the risk of abuse.
Following the Judgment of the CJEU dated 22.11.22, the Cyprus registrar of companies published an announcement on the 28th of November 2022 specifying that the access to the general public of the personal information of the Beneficial Owners is suspended from the 23rd of November 2022.
It is however signifying that the obligation to submit and update the data of the Beneficial owners still exists with the same procedure and the relevant authorities which will request access to the records and/or information will have to additionally provide a Responsible Declaration that will confirm that the details are requested in the context of taking the due diligence measures.
The Republic of Cyprus as a Member State is bound by the judgement of the CJEU. To comply with the above-mentioned judgement, a relevant amendment shall be made to L. 188(I)/2007.