Penalties are far greater than reward – Finance Malta Chairman

From left: Rudolph Psaila, Chairman of Finance Malta, Juanita Bencini, Financial Services Consultant & Professional Non-Executive Director and Olivier Khatib, CTO & Chief Data Scientist at Sensefolio

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Penalties for engaging in illegitimate business in Malta are far greater than rewards, Finance Malta Chairman Rudolph Psaila said during a “Trust and Transparency” webinar organised by the Malta Business Network.

The webinar highlighted the need for greater transparency in Malta’s financial services and regulatory systems.  Specific points were highlighted, and a resulting action forum will commence the process of bringing about further positive change to the sector.

The panel was hosted by Deborah Webster (Co-Founder and CEO of AMANIcircle), with key panellists, Rudolph Psaila (Chairman of Finance Malta), Juanita Bencini (Financial Services Consultant & Professional Non-Executive Director) and Olivier Khatib (CTO & Chief Data Scientist at Sensefolio).

Psaila dispelled misconceptions that it is easy to open and maintain a business in Malta, with greater audits and regulations now than ever before. He acknowledged the outcomes of the previous MoneyVal report, which were not positive, but what was important was to take on board feedback, and address issues with a specialist committee to overcome such challenges. “The financial services in Malta have grown at an exponential rate, and when something grows so fast, it’s natural we will uncover issues. What’s important is that we tackle them head-on”. Furthermore, in reference to transparency, Psaila added: “When companies are highlighted as non-compliant, this information is public knowledge, including the name of the party.”

Juanita Bencini echoed his sentiments, stating regulation is “a cat and mouse game, with the continuous blocking of uncovered holes”, she reiterated Malta is not the only jurisdiction facing such challenges. Still, it is a global challenge for the financial services industry. She acknowledged such services rely on trust, and greater transparency results in greater trust.

When it comes to the topic of public awareness and education of the financial services, Psaila said that “education is always important, the public need to be aware of financial technology and terms, and not just instruments.” The panel agreed the same was required for the media reporting on any related financial affairs.

Khatib recognised a shift in a global battle for more data, and the latest systems will bring about more transparency. He touched upon the importance of good governance scores and how new management and structural changes are one way of having a positive effect “From the eyes of a potential investor, you want to find a place with a stable economy, and where growth is steady. Stability and transparency are vital across the entire supply chain. Coming up with policies and legislation is one thing, but in any country, we need to see implementation and enforcement.”

Psaila added in the case of Malta, “consolidation of services and the sharing of information not only across jurisdictions but even within Malta will lead to greater transparency. Collectively a no should mean a no to all, and not where one can find loopholes. It’s a problem for the entire sector. We are working to attract sustainable and legitimate business to Malta. When it comes to due diligence, we must stay away from the checklist mentality and use a risk-based approach with judgement and onboarding from experienced professionals.

In the closing remarks Khatib recognised Malta has reputational damage internationally, but what is important is how this is tackled, and how Malta has the potential to be on the forefront of the next emerging technology and provide legitimate reasons for setting up a business within the islands.

For further information and to join the conversation, visit www.maltabusinessnetwork.com

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