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Transparency register: No more excerpts for the public?!

Since 2017, the beneficial owners of companies have to be entered in the electronic transparency register. Since last year, this has also applied without exception to companies for which this information was already available from the commercial register. The transparency register aims to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

The transparency register can be inspected not only by financial and tax authorities and those persons who have to fulfil special due diligence obligations to prevent money laundering (e.g. credit institutions, notaries, tax advisors and lawyers), but - until now - by all members of the public. All that was required was electronic registration.

This could change in the future. The ECJ ruled on 22.11.2022 (Case C-37/20 and C-601/20) that unlimited public access to the transparency register violates European law as it bears the risk of misuse of the information (e.g. for criminal offenses).

The ECJ's ruling was initially issued for the transparency register in Luxembourg. However, the same questions arise for Germany, because here, too, access to the transparency register was in principle open to everyone. It can be assumed that this will no longer be the case in the future and that access to the transparency register will be linked to the existence of a justified interest in inspection.

The German transparency register seems to have already reacted to the ECJ ruling: The Transparency Register is currently responding to requests for inspection submitted as a "member of the public" with unusually long processing times. Therefore, those who want to obtain excerpts from the transparency register must make their applications with particular care from now on.

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