Malta Business Registry CEO Geraldine Spiteri Lucas, when looking at the silver lining in Malta’s greylisting experience, believes that the best outcome was cooperation across Government authorities and stakeholders.

“We were all determined to get off the grey list as quickly as possible and this was an important factor.”

Ms Spiteri Lucas spoke during FinanceMalta’s 15th Annual Conference, the first in-person annual conference organised by the organisation since the pandemic. The overarching theme of the day-long event, that was filled with panel discussions by key figures in Malta’s and the EU’s financial services space was: Learning from the past, looking to the future.

Malta was placed on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list in June 2021 and was taken off a year later. The main issues identified were combatting tax evasion, having accurate and up-to-date information on ultimate beneficial ownership, and the framework for authorities to share information in the course of their work to monitor, investigate and prosecute cases of tax crimes and money laundering.

On Malta’s experience of getting off the grey list, Ms Spiteri Lucas remarked that cooperation between authorities was “useful” throughout the whole process.

Later on in the discussion, the MBR CEO stressed the need to strike the right balance between bureaucracy and facilitating business within the context of making greater use of technology.

“Its like a pendulum, and we need to find the right calibrating measures to ensure compliance obligations, but that we are not killing our business.

“How can we align processes to be more efficient? At the MBR, we are working on a fully fledged IT system, and discussions with IT companies working with subject persons to try to have APIs on our system, even when it comes to reporting, are ongoing.”

Turning to issues of accessibility, when asked about the ease of private industry practitioners to meet Government agency officials, such as at the MBR, during the course of their duties, Ms Spiteri Lucas revealed that from January, the MBR is implementing a new structure.

Officers will be split into areas of specialisation, with officers specialised in a particular area to “ensure efficiency and better communication”. When pressed about whether the officers are empowered to take decisions, she confirmed so, which should serve for issues by the private sector to be tackled more swiftly.

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