The Malta Financial Services Authority has declined to address a claim made by MP Jason Azzopardi where he implied that a wave of companies surrendering their licence to operate in a regulated financial market was related to corruption.
The MP took to Facebook last week to note that four companies had returned their MFSA licence to the authority.
“In the last 24 hours,” he said, “four more licences were returned to the MFSA by funds and large foreign companies. Between them, they represent tens of millions of euro lost from our economy.”
“Do you see how corruption and abuse of law has a cost on us all?” he asked.
The MPs post was an indirect reference to the global Financial Action Task Force’s decision on 23rd June to include Malta in a list of jurisdictions subject to increased monitoring, also known as the ‘grey list’.
In remarks made after the announcement of the decision, FATF presdent Marcus Pleyer said the organisation “is clear that there remain serious weaknesses and areas that must be addressed.
“It is crucial for Malta to ensure systems are in place that are strong enough to address ML and TF and serious organised crime,” he said.
“The authorities must not downplay the importance of these measures. That is why Malta is going on the grey list as a result of the remaining strategic deficiencies.”
Asked for a comment on the claim, the MFSA said: “Kindly note that the Malta Financial Services Authority does not react to speculation raised on social media.”
Pushed to respond to the observation, the authority replied: “During the year the MFSA receives various requests for surrender of licences. The full list of surrendered licences and the information pertaining to each is available on the MFSA website and can be accessed through the following link.
“The list also includes surrendered licences published in the past months and years.”
An analysis into the various surrenders of licence, registration or authorisation, and cancellations and suspensions of the same, reveals there have been a total of 92 such instances in the nine months since 1st November.
When seen on a monthly basis, the number of surrenders, cancellations and suspensions for July does not seem remarkable, with higher numbers registered in November and January.
Notably, November saw the surrender, cancellation or suspension of 21 licenses, registrations and authorisations.
A deeper look into the licences, registrations or authorisations affected shows that a full half (46) were related to collective investment schemes.
Another 12 were companies and individuals surrendering their licence to operate as company services providers, while 10 were related to investment services licences.
Six companies surrendered their registration to work as a Virtual Financial Asset (VFA) agents, and another six stopped operating as fiduciaries for trusts.
Five of the surrenders were related to insurance activities, while four companies gave up their financial institution licence.
|Total surrenders, cancellations, suspensions||Since 23rd June (date of greylisting)|
|Company services provider||12||2|
|Collective investment scheme||46||6|
|Financial institution licence||4||3|
Of the four surrenders of licence highlighted by Dr Azzopardi, three were related to collective investment schemes while another was realted to fiduciary services.
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