Martin Kenney is managing partner of Martin Kenney & Co., an investigative litigation practice based in the British Virgin Islands, specializing in global asset recovery.
Across Europe, countries have been switching off public access to what are known as beneficial ownership registers, in response to a ruling from the continent’s top court, the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
It’s a move that transparency campaigners are decrying, but which, after a 30-year background in battling economic criminals, I believe is a victory for common sense and the right to privacy. Other jurisdictions should take heed of the decision.
Since 2018, a patchwork of systems, which we refer to as ultimate beneficial owner (UBO) registers, have been operating across the European Union. These registers list the names of people who ultimately own a company, and through that, the assets that that company controls. But on Nov. 22, the ECJ ruled that a provision of the EU’s anti-money laundering directive, which requires EU member states to maintain such registers was invalid.