The financial regulator issued almost as many fines in 2020 as it had done in the previous three years combined, according to its latest annual report.
The Malta Financial Services Authority’s annual report for 2020 says the regulator took 52 enforcement actions last year.
These resulted in some €975,000 in fines and penalties issued. The figure is nearly the same as that dished out by the authority in the previous three years put together, some €1.2 million.
According to the MFSA report, tabled in parliament on Wednesday, the authority undertook a significantly higher number of inspections last year than in previous years.
It said that in 2020 it had carried out 419 inspections, marking an 84% increase over 2019 and a 149% increase over 2018.
Meanwhile, the MFSA report says the authority also conducted 81 inspections on behalf of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU).
The MFSA, FIAU, police and other regulatory entities have been increasing their efforts to weed out abuse as the country’s anti-money laundering regime is under the spotlight of international assessors.
Next week a global body known as the Financial Action Task Force will decide whether or not the country is deemed to be doing enough to combat major financial crime.
A vote will be held to decide whether or not Malta is placed on a list of untrustworthy jurisdictions.
Meanwhile, the MFSA said one in every four of the 265 applications for licensing authorisation was withdrawn last year.
This came as the authority experienced a 10-fold increase in the number of registered beneficial owners of trusts. These had filed more than 3,000 declarations.
The authority said that despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its operations, it was still able to integrate new anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing initiatives at the core of its work.
MFSA chairman John Mamo said that the sector had continued to grow during the pandemic, generating a good number of employment opportunities.
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