PN accuses government of shifting greylisting burden onto businesses and consumers

PN chief spokesperson Peter Agius says businesses, importers, self-employed and professionals are dealing with excessive scrutiny and bureaucracy as a result of greylisting

PN chief spokesperson Peter Agius (left) and PN candidate Graham Bencini outside the Malta Business Registry offices in Żejtun
PN chief spokesperson Peter Agius (left) and PN candidate Graham Bencini outside the Malta Business Registry offices in Żejtun

Chief Spokesperson for the Nationalist Party Peter Agius says the government is shifting the burden of Malta’s FATF greylisting onto businesses, importers, self-employed, professionals in the financial sector and consumers.

In a press conference in front of the Malta Business Registry offices in Żejtun, Agius said hundreds contacted the Opposition to complain about excessive levels of scrutiny and bureaucracy they are dealing with. 

“Ironically whilst the government spent €31 million to hire the MBR offices, without issuing a public tender, any Maltese company that carries out transactions, is being asked to provide an independent report on the company’s structure. The price for this has to be paid by Maltese businesses,” Agius said. 

He added that substantial due diligence checks are being requested, which in the case of companies have to be carried out for each director. “This means that for several sales and purchase contracts, companies are being charged thousands of euros in additional costs. This is a burden that the Government has shamelessly placed on the notaries’ shoulders with penalties of up to €60,000”. 

Agius also said that trust in local businesses has diminished, with importers being asked by foreign companies to present their financial accounts of the past two years. “This is an additional obligation on Maltese businesses which carries a cost, which is ultimately passed on to local consumers through a surge in prices,” Agius said. 

He added that several importers are being requested to pay everything upfront before delivery and the credit facility of 20-60 days is no longer an option. Agius said the added scrutiny of cash transfers has resulted in the freezing and closing of hundreds of bank accounts of workers and self-employed individuals.

“Malta’s greylisting is the result of the incompetence and corruption of the Labour Government. Maltese businesses expect to be at least informed of the plans for a way out from this grey listing and expect to be assisted rather than have extra burdens placed on them. The PN is listening to all those affected. The government is making a huge mistake in acting alone while placing all burdens and consequences on the Maltese businesses,” Agius said.  

PN candidate Graham Bencini said the election of a PN government, would send the “strongest signal” to the international community and bring Malta back on the white list within three months. 

Bencini said in government, the PN would establish a governmental department to deal with due diligence controls. “This would at least lessen the burden placed on businesses by ensuring that anyone lodging or purchasing property as well as notaries and banks would have legal certainty and a structure that helps them ascertain the necessary controls with less risk.”