Malta is preparing legislation to allow Sharia compliant banking and other financial services to attract investment, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi told Hedge Funds Review in an interview.
An excerpt of the interview was published online yesterday.
He revealed that the government is keen to expand the financial services industry offering to the Arab world by allowing banking in consistency with the principles of Islamic law.
“The concept is to grow exponentially. The potential is there. When the times come we will target other regions and states but first we are looking to develop our relationships with the Middle East,” confirmed Dr Gonzi.
He believes the area has enormous potential growth “and that’s the future sector for our growth”. Dr Gonzi was speaking about the potential of the hedge funds industry in Malta. Although a newcomer to the industry, Malta is one of the few, if not only, significant hedge fund jurisdictions to have seen substantial growth in 2008 and in 2009.
Dr Gonzi explained that Malta is strategically positioned geographically and culturally as the “only financial centre in the European Union and eurozone able to offer a range of services. The advantage Malta has is that we are comfortable with the Arab world and the Arab world trusts and engages with us.”
Commonwealth membership is another significant advantage, he continued, as Malta’s associations with 52 former British colonies are “natural”. This will help Malta expand the reach of the financial services industry globally.
The government has prioritised development of the financial services industry and is particularly keen to boost its standing as a hedge fund jurisdiction of choice within the EU.
The full interview with Dr Gonzi will be published in the Malta supplement with the November issue of Hedge Funds Review.