Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said on Friday he was "obviously concerned" about statements by HSBC Malta CEO Andrew Beane about reputational damage being done to the country’s financial sector.
It was essential that all market participants ensured anti-money laundering standards were fully implemented without delay, Mr Beane said during the presentation of HBSC’s financial results on Tuesday.
Replying to questions after a press conference, Prof. Scicluna said certain groups of people had damaged Malta’s reputation.
The Finance Minister said he was obviously concerned by Mr Beane’s declaration:
“It’s a state of affairs. He said what was so obvious to many people”.
In what was a turbulent 2018 for the banking sector, Pilatus Bank had its licence taken away by the ECB and Satabank was put under the control of EY after the authorities found widespread breaches of anti-money laundering procedures at the bank.
Asked if he was saying that this reputation damage had been brought about by politicians, Prof. Scicluna said others were keen to tarnish the island’s reputation, including by feeding foreign media one-sided stories.
When it was again pointed out that Mr Beane was calling on the financial sector to get its act together, Finance Minister said HSBC as a global bank had been bitten elsewhere in other countries.
“They have revolutionised and changed the culture because of that, and they expect that other banks should learn from these experiences, and carry out the changes and cleaning up which is required, because it is a new age now”.
Prof. Scicluna said all the banks were working on improving their compliance functions, in what was turning out to be a costly exercise.
He said the MFSA and FIAU were also in constant contact with the banks.
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