Malta’s largest bank is not expected to face “any significant difficulties” in the wake of Malta’s greylisting by the FATF, a global anti-money laundering body.

BOV’s CEO Rick Hunkin told Times of Malta that the bank is disappointed at the outcome being indicated, given the good progress made by Malta to up its fight against financial crime.

Hunkin said BOV had considered the implications of a greylisting, and this work has indicated the bank will not face any significant difficulties in continuing to create value and safeguard its capital solvency and liquidity risk profiles.

He said the bank shall continue to work in close collaboration with its international partners and regulators to ensure protection of customers, depositors, shareholders and the Maltese economy in general.

Edward Scicluna awaiting FATF's own statement

Central Bank Governor Edward Scicluna adopted a wait-and-see approach when contacted by Times of Malta about the potential impact of the greylisting.

Scicluna was finance minister at the time Moneyval offered a dismal view of the country’s efforts to combat financial crime and terrorism financing.

He said the Central Bank is awaiting the FATF’s own statement on its decision to greylist the country.

Although a vote was taken by the FATF on Wednesday, the anti-money laundering body is only expected to make a formal announcement today.

Scicluna said the Central Bank then be in a position to evaluation the FATF recommendations and related matters arising from them.

This will allow the bank to state how it intends to address those recommendations which fall in its area of competence and delineate its contribution to the over-all action plan within the ambit of the national coordination committee.

I do not forecast this to have a negative impact on the economy, as I am certain that the country will continue to work- Clyde Caruana

Clyde Caruana, who took over from Scicluna as finance minister, has so far downplayed the impact of the greylisting. Caruana said the government will not be reviewing its plans for economic growth or its financial targets.”

“I do not forecast this to have a negative impact on the economy, as I am certain that the country will continue to work,” Caruana said.

Economist JP Fabri: trust and reputation 'key'

Economist JP Fabri told Times of Malta that trust and reputation are key for a jurisdiction to remain relevant and also attract new investment.

“The greylisting will be a dent in Malta’s reputation and attractiveness. What is going to be crucial now is where we go from here and what we do now to actually start rectifying the situation. It is going to be critical that the government continues with the already deep reforms that have started and actually see more of them.”.

Fabri said there is no doubt that certain companies, especially those that are internationally-facing, will encounter some difficulties going forward so it is here that the government needs to continue being agile and nimble to support these companies.

In a statement on Thursday, the Malta Union of Bank Employees called on all stakeholders, including the financial services regulator – to help Malta “regain credibility”.

It warned against “self-inflicted reputational damage as it seriously posed a potential unwarranted risk to the country’s future wellbeing which supersedes any kind of politics”.

According to the union, all stakeholders should continue to insist on good effective governance at all times since it is the only way for Malta to regain the level of credibility it was once renowned for. 

Being disciplined in approach, proactive and acting in a timely manner in support of transparency will help our nation to regain credibility, MUBE said.

“With a coordinated effort at a national level, Malta can recover its white-listing status by showing determination in the way governance is applied across all levels of business and society. 

“As a jurisdiction, Malta should have never reached such a low point especially after a hard-earned EU membership status and ably sealed with the timely introduction of the euro.

“Lessons learnt, the nation must look forward and show resolve in execution by applying a zero-tolerance approach in support of an established system that effectively counters corruption, fraud and money-laundering.”

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