Amendments to legislation regulating the MFSA are being discussed in parliament which formally establish an Anti-Money-Laundering Committee and make various structural changes, such as the establishment of new directorates.

Financial Services Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri said that the authority needed to be brought up to speed with new realities, and the changes would strengthen Malta’s resilience against the worldwide phenomenon of money laundering.

He called for Malta to follow the example of Germany and Denmark, whose Parliaments had come together to tackle the serious money-laundering scandals which had surfaced in recent weeks. The livelihood of the financial services sector, he added, should not be politicised.

The proposed amendments met with the approval of an IMF delegation, whose proposals, where possible, had also been incorporated into the Bill. These proposals included suggestions for the establishment of an Enforcement Decision Committee. The Bill had been subjected to an extensive consultation process with stakeholders and international financial institutions before reaching the Chamber.

Opposition MP Kristy Debono expressed the Nationalist Party’s positive view of the amendments, while pointing out the work that needed to be done to restore Malta’s reputation in the financial services sector.

The country, she said, had come to be seen as lax on money laundering, and the MFSA’s hard work in past years had been damaged by its involvement in the licensing of Pilatus Bank and Satabank. She also called for the powers of the recently established role of CEO to be limited.

Calling attacks by German MEP Sven Giegold “unjust,” she highlighted the need to strengthen the perceived autonomy of the MFSA and other financial institutions internationally. She also spoke about the importance of the upcoming Moneyval delegation visit for Malta’s financial sector.

MP Alex Muscat implied that the Nationalist Party - or a faction thereof - had coordinated the German MEP's attack on the Maltese financial sector and his threats with respect to HSBC. He called on Nationalist MPs 'of good will' to restrain their colleagues from damaging Malta’s interests.

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