Malta’s reputation as an offshore financial centre is regarded as solid. Thanks to legislation prior to EU entry, Malta has maintained a top-10 placing, although no re-classification has been made recently. Our country is also steadily gaining a place among other established European centres as a safe onshore location for financial services. The financial sector provides a substantial contribution to our economy and our authorities, especially the government should be very careful not to jeopardise the esteem that the country enjoys.
Our country has stringent rules about money laundering. However, in a report published by the Council of Europe earlier this year, Malta has been accused of lax enforcement of these laws. Recently, Malta has been linked with investigations in Italy and France, alleging that our country could have been used for the transfer of substantially high amounts in scandals involving Italy, Luxembourg, France and Malaysia. It is being strongly suggested that Maltese registered companies were used in the illegal transfer of funds through Malta.
The Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, MFSA, the local Banks, professionals involved in the sector and especially Government authorities have their different roles, power and the duties to follow up such allegations and help clear Malta’s name with regard to complicity in money laundering. Although our laws provide a substantial amount of protection to legal firms offering facilities for nominee companies, the local firms are obliged to report any suspicion of money laundering activities in these offshore companies. The bank’s should also scrutinise inflow and outflow of substantial amounts and report such occurrences especially when these sums exceed six or seven digit figures.