Following the USA’s decision to sanction a Maltese-registered entity and its linked individuals, the MFSA spurred into action as it was revealed that one of the individuals holds a top position in a local financial institution.

The US Department of Treasury sanctioned Malta-registered Stratton Investment Group due to its links with Walter Moretti. This led to another director of the same company, Frederic Pierre Villa, being sanctioned.

Mr Villa has been an active player in Malta’s private sector for several years.

He is the founder of Integritas Group, a firm offering specialised commercial services to individuals and companies, and is the CEO of a financial institution licensed by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) which provides digital banking services.

Screenshot from Mr Villa’s Facebook account taken 02/03/2023

Since US sanctions are non-binding on Maltese entities it is unclear as to what action, if any, the MFSA is obligated to take.

In a comment to this newsroom, an MFSA spokesperson said, “the MFSA is following these developments very closely and co-ordinating with other relevant authorities.”

“The Authority takes compliance with international sanctions very seriously and will be working to ensure that any necessary actions falling within the MFSA’s remit are taken in an expedient manner.”

At time of writing there appears to be an effort to limit Mr Villa’s digital footprint, with his LinkedIn profile being deleted, Integritas deleting his profile from the website, and most information of his past-employment details being omitted from his Facebook account.

The MFSA recently published its supervisory priorities for 2023, which highlighted its commitments to industrial resilience, compliance and governance, and is therefore expected to treat this situation fairly seriously.

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