On 19 December 2022, the School of Law hosted its fourth Continuing Professional Development (CPD) event pursuant to its Memoranda of Understanding with the Larnaca Bar Association and the Famagusta Bar Association respectively. This event was a webinar with a self-explanatory title – ‘Anti-Money Laundering, Legal Practice and the Rule of Law: A Critical Post-Brexit Anglo-Cypriot Analysis’. The webinar was primarily aimed at practising lawyers, trainee lawyers and law students, but it was also designed to satisfy the CPD obligations of both practising lawyers and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance professionals.
The webinar began with a ‘Welcome’ by Prof. Stéphanie Laulhé Shaelou, Head of School, Professor of European Law and Reform, and Director of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence for the Rule of Law and European Values (CRoLEV) in the School of Law of UCLan Cyprus. Prof. Laulhé Shaelou reminded all in attendance of the World Anti-Corruption Day but also of Human Rights Day, both celebrated in December every year, together with the timely nature of the present webinar. Prof. Laulhé Shaelou further reminded everyone of the Fundamentals in the CPD portfolio of the School of Law of UCLan Cyprus, including Anti-Money Laundering and privacy related issues, in association with legal and other practitioners. Finally, she noted the importance of the webinar with reference to the latest case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, EU-UK and UK-Republic of Cyprus relations, as well as latest developments with regards to the AML Directive no.6 of the EU.
Next to speak with some ‘Introductory Remarks’ was Christakis Mouskos, President of the Larnaca Bar Association, who also spoke on behalf of the Famagusta Bar Association and welcomed everyone to the webinar.
Both Prof. Laulhé Shaelou and Mr. Mouskos emphasised the educational value of the aforementioned Memoranda of Understanding and how this webinar was a tangible outcome of them.
The main body of the webinar was devoted to two presentations.
One presentation was delivered by Dr. Klearchos A. Kyriakides, Senior Visiting Fellow in the School of Law of UCLan Cyprus. He delivered an Anglo-centric presentation entitled ‘The post-Brexit Anti-Money Laundering and Financial Sanctions Regime in England: how does it affect lawyers in the Republic of Cyprus?’ With the question in this sub-title uppermost in his mind, Dr. Kyriakides sought to achieve five somewhat inter-linked purposes.
The first purpose was to consider why, in recent decades, England and other parts of the UK have attracted so many illicit financial flows from overseas, including the Republic of Cyprus and Russia. Dr. Kyriakides emphasised the grave past mistakes of the UK Government and various public authorities in the handling of limited companies and Russia. These mistakes, he suggested, are illustrated by the shortcomings of Companies House and by the findings of the Inquiry into Russia conducted by the Intelligence & Security Committee of the UK Parliament under the chairmanship of Dominic Grieve QC MP, a former Attorney General of England & Wales. The findings of the Inquiry were published in 2020.
The second purpose was to identify some Acts of Parliament, Regulations and cases in the ‘draconian’ Anti-Money Laundering and Financial Sanctions Regime in post-Brexit England. Dr. Kyriakides adopted the term ‘draconian’ as it was the one used in the House of Commons on 22 February 2022 by Boris Johnson MP, the then British Prime Minister, to describe the legislation then in the pipeline in response to the then mounting tensions between Russia and Ukraine. According to Mr. Johnson: ‘The Government are already implementing a draconian package of sanctions and we will go further.’ (See here) In this context, Dr. Kyriakides paid particular attention to the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022, which received Royal Assent on 15 March 2022. He explained that it has deep implications, not least for any ‘overseas entity’ with property in England or in any other part of the UK. For details, see the Companies House Guidance entitled ‘Register an overseas entity and tell us about its beneficial owners’ and related official Guidance (see here and here). Dr. Kyriakides likewise gave emphasis to the post-Brexit financial sanctions legislation enacted by the UK Parliament, particularly since Russia re-invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022. For details, see inter alia the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office Guidance entitled ‘Sanctions’ and ‘UK Sanctions Relating to Russia’.
The other three purposes of Dr. Kyriakides’ presentation were to question features of the English Anti-Money Laundering Regime which are hard to reconcile with the rule of law, professional ethics or basic tenets of the lawyer-client relationship, such as client confidentiality, to offer practical suggestions aimed at lawyers in the Republic of Cyprus with cases or clients linked to the UK and to provide reading material freely available online.
An adaptation of the powerpoint presentation of Dr. Kyriakides, including his lengthy list of freely available reading material, accompanies this press release here.
The other presentation was delivered by Mr. Christian Pelaghias, Associate Lecturer in Anti-Money Laundering Law at the School of Law of UCLan Cyprus and a practising lawyer at Chr. G. Pelaghias & Co LLC in Larnaca. His presentation was entitled ‘Anti-Money Laundering Compliance, Beneficial Ownership Transparency and Fundamental Rights in the Republic of Cyprus and the EU’.
Mr. Pelaghias began by presenting the various arguments put forward by, on the one hand, those that argue for increased transparency within the compliance sector, and, on the other hand, those that seek to safeguard the individual’s right to privacy. Mr. Pelaghias then moved on to discuss the Judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union in WM and Sovim SA v Luxembourg Business Registers (joined Cases C 37/20 and C 601/20) where the public access of the ultimate beneficial ownership registers, introduced by the 4th and 5th AML Directives, were being called into question. The Court found that permitting public access to registers, such as the ultimate beneficial ownership registers introduced by the AML directives, constituted a serious interference with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and the protection of personal data.
The presentation concluded with a discussion of the facts of the Court’s decision, as well as a deeper discussion on the need to ensure that compliance rules and regulations are governed by balanced and proportionate legislation.
The Judgment is available here.
The powerpoint presentation of Mr. Pelaghias accompanies this press release here.
The webinar included question-and-answer sessions which enabled attendees to raise certain issues or ask questions.
At the end for the webinar, the participation of lawyers practising in Cyprus was certified in accordance with the CPD requirements of the Cyprus Bar Association. This was possible because UCLan Cyprus, through its School of Law, is an accredited provider of CPD programmes under the relevant Cyprus Bar Association scheme.
The School of Law of UCLan Cyprus thanks all involved in the organisation and delivery of this webinar, including the Larnaca Bar Association, the Famagusta Bar Association and the speakers. The School also thanks the attendees who participated.
Finally, the flyer used to publicise the webinar is available online here and a video recording is available on the UCLan Cyprus YouTube Channel here.