The bankers' union is calling on all stakeholders - including the financial services regulator - to help Malta "regain credibility" after a global anti-money laundering watchdog voted to add Malta to its grey list.
In a statement on Thursday, 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".
Studies suggest that ending up on the Financial Action Task Force's grey list could have far-reaching repercussions on the country’s economy, impacting banking, ease of doing business and the island’s attractiveness to foreign investors.
However, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana insisted on Wednesday that the decision would not have a serious impact on the country's economy.
According to the Malta Union of Bank Employees, 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."
MUBE acknowledged that there has been improvement, however, the nation needed to show consistency by ensuring that the impact on Malta’s financial services and banking sector is minimal.
'MFSA cannot accept anything short of highest standard'
"Very relevant is how the institutions conduct business at all levels. The MFSA being the regulator and a firm driver of the process cannot accept anything short of the highest of standards as it is the only way our nation can recover its previous long-time good reputation that directly supports all those who work in the banking and finance industry," according to MUBE.
As the world gradually headed into a gig economy, Malta should avoid self-inflicted reputational damage as it posed an unwarranted risk to the country’s future wellbeing, it said.
"After so much sacrifice, we should work to recover as soon as possible and make sure we never allow this to happen again," the union added.
Chamber of Advocates
The Chamber of Advocates expressed “grave concern” at the effects the greylisting could have on Malta’s economy.
Certain core industries, such as the financial services sector and that of corporate services which have, in the past, contributed immensely to the economy, will surely be negatively impacted, it said.
It added that it is imperative that all the relevant stakeholders come together immediately to agree on a common strategy that will ensure that Malta is placed back on the white list as soon as possible.
General Workers’ Union
The GWU said it believed that if all national forces made a collective effort, Malta would regain its international credibility.
It said that although a lot of work regarding governance, the rule of law, and financial transparency had been done, there was always more that can be done.
The union said the greylisting can lead to a deterioration of working conditions and affect employment and foreign direct investment.
The COVID-19 pandemic had united the social partners and very good results had been achieved.
This was now another challenge for the partners to work together to clean up Malta’s name and change the result to enable the country to once again embark on the way forward.