Gov­ern­ment says PM’s New York visit was aimed at at­tract­ing new in­vest­ment

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

The gov­ern­ment yes­ter­day de­nied that the Prime Min­is­ter had trav­elled to New York to res­cue fail­ing cor­re­spon­dent bank­ing agree­ments but said that it had sought to at­tract more cor­re­spond­ing banks to Malta.

It was re­act­ing to a state­ment is­sued ear­lier by the Na­tion­al­ist Party, which urged the gov­ern­ment to act in light of re­ports that sev­eral US banks had with­drawn their cor­re­spond­ing bak­ing re­la­tion­ships with lo­cal banks.

Cor­re­spon­dent Banks are nec­es­sary for com­mer­cial trans­ac­tions with for­eign com­pa­nies and also for lo­cal banks to trade in the dol­lar

The PN’s spokesper­son on the fi­nan­cial sec­tor, Kristy De­bono, claimed the PM had flown to New York to sal­vage these re­la­tion­ships. The PN said it had re­peat­edly warned the gov­ern­ment about the dif­fi­cul­ties that lo­cal banks were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing with cor­re­spon­dent banks.

It said that this devel­op­ment had come about as a re­sult of Malta’s rep­u­ta­tion be­ing tar­nished, in­clud­ing through the Panama Pa­pers scan­dal. Mrs De­bono said the gov­ern­ment should ad­dress the is­sue of rep­u­ta­tion and should also use the EU Pres­i­dency to get all par­ties to­gether to build re­la­tions with cor­re­spon­dent banks. It should also ad­dress the res­ig­na­tion of the chief of the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Anal­y­sis Unit. The post re­mains va­cant af­ter Man­fred Galdes re­signed in Au­gust.

In re­ac­tion, the gov­ern­ment said it de­nied the Op­po­si­tion’s ir­re­spon­si­ble and mis­in­formed claim in the most cat­e­gor­i­cal way. “The PM’s visit in the United states fo­cused on bring­ing more work to Malta, as well as in­vest­ment in new sec­tors, in­clud­ing fin­tech, in­sur­ance, the prospect of new banks open­ing in Malta and fi­nan­cial ser­vices.”

The gov­ern­ment con­ceded that the Mal­tese del­e­ga­tion had made an ef­fort to at­tract more banks that of­fer cor­re­spond­ing bank­ing to Malta but said it was do­ing this in light of poli­cies im­posed on US banks in re­cent years which had noth­ing to do with Malta.

“This is an is­sue that has been on­go­ing since the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion. Ef­forts by that ad­min­is­tra­tion did not yield any re­sults. This gov­ern­ment is work­ing to ob­tain re­sults. It is enough to note that the Al Faisal made an enor­mous in­vest­ment in a lo­cal bank some weeks ago. Our bank­ing sec­tor is strong and, be­cause our econ­omy is do­ing well, good re­sults are be­ing achieved and will con­tinue to be achieved, even as a re­sult of this visit to the US.”

The gov­ern­ment said these re­sults did not come from ir­re­spon­si­ble state­ments like the one made by the Op­po­si­tion. “If it wants to be taken se­ri­ously, the Op­po­si­tion should take its in­for­ma­tion to the reg­u­la­tor, who was ap­pointed by the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion and to whom it has free ac­cess. Se­ri­ous­ness dic­tates that af­ter it does so, the Op­po­si­tion should correct its in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion.”

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