The Malta Banking Association would welcome new banks that could cater to sectors that local banks are unable or unwilling to service directly.

Businessnow.mt reached out to the MBA after Economy Minster Silvio Schembri said earlier this week that the Government was in talks with several corporate banks to set up shop in Malta. Both Maltese companies and international companies based in Malta have been finding it increasingly hard to open a business account and access financing.

While being open to the possibility of new banks entering the market, the MBA stressed that any newcomers must be able to generate a sustainable business case, while being subject to the same rules and regulatory scrutiny that existing banks are.

“Any new banks would have to demonstrate how they would manage and control risks arising in specific areas they might potentially be targeting,” MBA Secretary General Karol Gabarretta said.

Mr Gabarretta mentioned how international factors played a big part in the current local banking climate.

“This environment is the result of international initiatives over several years and which have arisen primarily from previous banking crises, together with a significantly heightened focus on properly addressing global money laundering and terrorist financing concerns,” he said, adding that local factors such as being added to the FATF’s grey list had further complicated matters.

This is not the first time the Government has promised to resolve corporate banking issues, with former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Minister Clayton Bartolo, previously the Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, making similar statements in recent years.

Asked if he believes the issues will be resolved any time soon, Mr Gabarretta said:

“The Association recognises that significant efforts are being made to remove Malta from the grey list at the earliest opportunity. Such efforts rest well beyond just the banks themselves, and the MBA augurs that sufficient progress continues to be made in all areas so that this is achieved sooner rather than later. Such a label may also prove to be a hurdle for any potential new banking entrants.”

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