The new Malta Financial Services Authority chairman described German giant Deutsche Bank as a “well-known money-laundering channel” in a hearing of the Public Appointments Committee on Friday.

John Mamo said countries that are making their voice heard against Malta, like Germany or Sweden, should note that they did not have a clean slate either.

London was also a centre for money-laundering, he added.

In a tweet later, MEP David Casa said Prof. Mamo was absolutely right about Deutsche Bank and the European Parliament would fight against organised crime whoever was responsible, Deutsche Bank included.

“We want to make it clear that we are keeping a clean house,” Prof. Mamo said, adding that Malta should not “be a masochist”.

“We should not seek to go beyond what are critics are asking of us."

Members of Parliament, who were vetting his appointment, said they were satisfied with Prof. Mamo's replies, with PN MP Carm Mifsud Bonnici noting that the country's reputation in the financial sector would now fall on his shoulders.

The MFSA could have taken stronger actions against Pilatus Bank, Dr Mifsud Bonnici said.

The authority came under fire for its action against Pilatus Bank, after its chairman Ali Sadr Hasheminejad was arrested on charges that he had violated US sanctions.

The MFSA froze the bank’s assets and suspended Mr Hashemi Nejad’s chairmanship of the bank.

But Prof. Mamo said he knew little more than laymen on the matter.

“I followed the situation closely, and I agree that it is a massive problem,” he said. “However, I can’t speak on whether the MFSA acted well, because I simply do not know.”

He pointed out that the communications department within the MFSA was quite weak, and added that there was recruitment ongoing to include more members.

“There are also limits on confidentiality, but the lines are hard to draw,” he said, pointing out that different units were also limited in what information they could give to each other.

After the nomination, Prof Mamo was taken under the wing of outgoing chairman Joe Bannister.

Prof Mamo added that he has been in conferences with the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank as part of his induction into the role.

“I was given as much exposure, while still maintaining the limits of confidentiality,” he noted.

Prof. Bannister stepped down from his current positions as head of the MFSA on March 31, it was announced.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat made the announcement, which was welcomed by the Opposition, last December. 

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