BOV

Malta’s removal from the grey list does not mean that banking requirements will be relaxed overnight, BOV has said, warning that customers “should not expect any significant changes” to their banking experience.

In what may be an attempt to manage expectations and downplay hopes that the development could improve a banking sector that has often come in for criticism, a spokesperson for Malta’s largest bank told BusinessNow.mt that banks remain obliged to comply to increasingly stringent and refined regulations, regardless of the jurisdiction’s international standing.

Such rules include those surrounding anti-money laundering, know-your-customer obligations and international payments.

“There should not be material impact upon BOV customers,” they said.

While advising caution to those who might expect the Financial Action Task Force’s decision to leave an immediate impact throughout the banking system, BOV nonetheless said it is “delighted” at the news, which it believes “reflects the considerable efforts made across many areas and demonstrates an environment which can provide comfort to international businesses wanting to do business with our country”.

In fact, the “major development”, for BOV, is the stronger investment environment arising from Malta’s rapid exit from the list, which should mitigate the risk of potentially significant effects over time.

“In terms of the banks operation we do not expect significant direct impact, albeit we may see some minor relaxation of information requirements of international banks when payments are being effected,“ the spokesperson said.

“There is the prospect that some international banks may begin to ease restrictions or requirements on payments to or from Malta, but this may take time: the core need for customers to provide timely information to support requests will remain.”

The spokesperson said that for the majority of customers, where risks are low, restrictions are “few and limited”.

However, for more complex situations, they said, “the onus on customers to provide timely information to the bank to enable us to meet requirements remains important”.

“As we develop and refine our procedures we will look to simplify wherever possible, but the grey listing removal should not be seen as an opportunity to relax regulatory standards.”

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