[WATCH] MFSA carried out over 200 on-site inspections in 2016

Parliamentary secretary for financial services Silvio Schemrbi accused the Nationalist Party of hypocrisy given that only 37 such inspections were carried out in its final year of government in 2012

In 2016, the MFSA carried out 237 on-site inspections and audits, compared with 37 in 2012, according to Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri.

Schembri was a guest on Xtra, together with Nationalist MP and General Council president Kristy Debono, where he accused the PN of hypocrisy in its criticism of institutions like the MFSA.

“To fight corruption you must investigate it and carry out audits and on-site inspections,” said Schembri, stressing that the latest inspection figures were more than six times greater.

He insisted that corruption did not “develop in just one year” and that the government had started to suffer attacks because of its efforts to weed out corruption.

Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services Silvio Schembri said the MFSA had carried out 237 on-site inspections and audits in 2017
Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services Silvio Schembri said the MFSA had carried out 237 on-site inspections and audits in 2017

Debono acknowledged that increased monitoring by the financial services watchdog was positive, but stressed that only a few months ago, a delegation of MEPs had visited Malta and prepared a damning report on Malta, in which doubts were cast on the the independence and suitability of its institutions. 

She said that anyone who had an interest in the sector was disappointed with the way in which the Panama Papers leaks and the subsequent revelations stemming from them, where handled by the government.

This evening’s episode was dedicated to Malta’s financial services sector, with Schembri refuting claims that Malta played a role in aided tax avoidance, preferring to refer to Malta’s system as a competitive one.

“It is a model that many small countries employ,” he said, adding that many other small countries, like Luxembourg, needed to rely on financial services to remain competitive.

Asked whether the consensus between the two parties on the Financial Services remained intact, Debono pointed out that Malta being at the centre of so much bad press that it was threatening the sector.

Kristy Debono stressed that justified criticism of the government did not mean the PN was working against the country
Kristy Debono stressed that justified criticism of the government did not mean the PN was working against the country

She stressed that the Opposition criticising the government when it needed to, didn’t mean it was trying to harm the country.

Moreover, she said it was also worrying when a governor of the MFSA had stated publicly that he is in favour of tax harmonisation.

On his part, Schembri insisted that consensus between the two parties had been broken by Simon Busuttil when he was PN leader, but added that both sides were now working to rebuild this understanding, as evidenced by the fact that both sides had agreed on the who would be the new MFSA chairman.

He insisted that individuals like MEP David Casa went beyond criticising the government and were actively manoeuvring

“These people don’t criticise, they just spew vitriolic hatred towards the country,” said Schembri.

Debono stressed however that different politicians had their own style and expressed themselves in different ways.

“The consensus was never broken, because I’m sure both parties have the financial services at hear,” she stressed, but acknowledged that cracks had started to appear in the aftermath of the Panama Papers scandal.

She said that everyone had heard about Pilatus Bank and its relation to money laundering accusations stemming from the leaks, and one could hardly blame the Opposition for this.

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