HSBC must pull out of Malta, warns MEP

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Front page - By Peter Foster

HSBC must close its busi­ness in Malta if the tiny Euro­pean Union state with a rep­u­ta­tion for a lax ap­proach to fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tion does not do more to con­front the scourge of money laun­der­ing, a lead­ing MEP has warned.

The threat to launch a po­ten­tially dam­ag­ing pub­lic­ity cam­paign against HSBC’S con­tin­ued pres­ence in Malta could raise fresh ques­tions over the sin­cer­ity of the bank’s ef­forts to re­store its rep­u­ta­tion af­ter a se­ries of scan­dals and com­pli­ance fail­ures.

Sven Giegold, a Ger­man MEP with a rep­u­ta­tion for fierce cam­paign­ing on fi­nan­cial trans­parency is­sues, promised to turn his fire on HSBC if the Mal­tese gov­ern­ment did not take more ac­tion to tighten up reg­u­la­tions.

“If I don’t see a change in at­ti­tude, backed up by demon­stra­ble ac­tion, I will launch a cam­paign call­ing for HSBC to quit the is­land,” he told The

Tele­graph. Mr Giegold, who was a mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment’s com­mit­tee of in­quiry into money laun­der­ing and tax eva­sion, was speak­ing af­ter a visit to Malta ear­lier this month, which he de­scribed as “dis­ap­point­ing”.

Malta’s fi­nan­cial ser­vices author­ity, the MFSA, has been un­der pres­sure from Brus­sels af­ter a Euro­pean Bank­ing Author­ity re­port found “gen­eral and sys­tem­atic short­com­ings” in how Malta ap­plies money-laun­der­ing rules.

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