On 22 November 2022, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) declared[i] that the provision of the EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive[ii] (AMLD), whereby Member States must ensure that the information on the beneficial ownership of corporate[iii] entities incorporated within their territory is accessible in all cases to any member of the general public, is invalid.
Previously, the register of beneficial ownership was accessible by a competent authority, a financial intelligence unit, obliged entities[iv] and a person or organisation that demonstrates a legitimate interest.[v] In 2020 the final category, i.e., a “person or organisation that demonstrates a legitimate interest” was expanded to “a member of the public.”
The CJEU stated that:
“a fair balance should be sought in particular between the general public interest in the prevention of money laundering …and the data subjects’ fundamental rights.”
The CJEU decided that:
“the general public’s access to information on beneficial ownership…constitutes an interference with the rights guaranteed in Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter [of Fundamental Rights of the European Union].”[vi]
The Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) developed from research on the competitiveness of financial centres that Z/Yen Group undertook for the City of London in 2005.
Previous research compared a small number of centres, typically just London, Frankfurt, Paris, and New York. Financial centre strength was already widely distributed at that point, and Z/Yen developed the GFCI to offer a dynamic measure of the strength of financial centres across the world. The first edition of the GFCI was published in 2007. In September 2022, Z/Yen published the 32nd edition of the index, which is updated twice a year.
The GFCI is a factor assessment index that combines two distinct sets of data to create a rating for financial centres:
The world faces a barrage of daunting challenges. From the impact of the war in Ukraine on energy prices and inflation, climate change and the destruction of the environment, to increasing cyber-crime and a host of other vexing issues, governments are being forced to adapt and respond to a series of crises amid an increasingly gloomy global economic outlook.
That is why, more than ever, it is vital for governments and international bodies to work together to support ambitious action that strengthens the sustainability of our societies and economies.
Part of that action needs to be focused on tackling illicit finance. Money laundering sustains illegal activity. It is estimated that two trillion dollars are laundered each year. Organised criminal syndicates, terrorists and corrupt officials launder their illicit profits and enjoy the fruit of their crimes. This cash fuels further serious crime and terrorism, undermines global financial systems, and makes societies less safe and economies less sustainable.
It is vital for national authorities to work together to target the financial flows that allow criminals to get away with their dirty money. By focusing on financial investigations, governments can go after the funds of drugs, weapons, and human traffickers, as well as the perpetrators of other illicit activities.
Since its establishment over 30 years ago, Labuan has grown to become Asia’s innovative intermediation centre in a well-regulated environment with a wide array of products and solutions.
As part of this special report, we highlight the current strengths of the jurisdiction's financial services industry in areas such as Captive Insurance, Islamic Finance, FinTech and Private Foundations.
Despite the world’s specialist IFCs demonstrating high levels of regulation, compliance and transparency, their role in international finance is constantly challenged by false narratives and distorted beliefs.
However, the narrative of the ‘clean’ onshore jurisdiction versus the ‘dirty’ offshore jurisdiction is one that is becoming increasingly untenable to support. Through analysis by key practitioners, trade specialists and economists, we consider the disparity between perception and reality in offshore finance and contemplate the future of offshore in an increasingly regulated world.
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