The Malta Independent 20 November 2018, Tuesday

‘You are giving the minister more importance than he actually has’ – Edward Scicluna

Julian Bonnici Thursday, 7 December 2017, 13:49 Last update: about 13 months ago

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna shrugged off questions concerning Nexia BT and Pilatus Bank in the face of the European Parliament’s resolution calling for an investigation into the former’s compliance and the latter’s licensing process, insisting that the newsroom was giving the minister too much importance and that he had faith in the relevant institutions to handle the issue.

The Minister was asked whether he felt it was inappropriate that Nexia BT, which opened offshore companies for PEPs Minister Konrad Mizzi and OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, to advertise its services through Public-Private entities such as Property Malta and Air Malta.


 “I don’t want to comment. I don’t want to comment on a company, on what they do, or what their strategy is.  Why should I have an opinion? Of course they are middle of whatever, but I’ll take that and wait for it to takes it course,” Scicluna said.

The Minister would also not be drawn into commenting on the European Parliament’s calls regarding the two institutions, stressing that there were both local and internal regulatory and supervisory institutions whose remit is to monitor banking and auditing firms.

Asked whether he has looked into the matter himself since the EP’s damning resolution, the Minster asked “why would a Minister interfere in such a thing?”

“I trust the institutions and I will leave them to take action,” Scicluna said. “If we are not happy with the board, then the next time they are appointed I will take note, but I will leave the current action to take its course.”

“Banks are supervised by a banking union in Frankfurt. Take Nemea Bank. The license was withdrawn by the single supervisor Frankfurt. Will you address to them,” he said.

“You have an opinion, I might have mine, but we are not talking about opinions. We need to ask whether who is providing the license is conducting the proper due diligence, and if this is in doubt, I can assure you that there are enough European institutions to ensure that companies have abided by regulations. That may not stop people questioning, but I can assure you that any allegations are taken very seriously, especially when it concerns banks.”


MFSA:  Concerns over due diligence?

Scicluna was pressed further as to whether the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA)’s due diligence was in doubt, not only given the aforementioned cases, but also following the recent articles concerning Finance Malta promoting American Entrepreneur Julie Meyer, whose MFSA licensed company that is facing a garnishee order of roughly €60,000 in unpaid invoices, has an extremely chequered history involving lack of payments to creditors and employees.

“I think you are giving the Minister more importance than he actually has,” he replied when also refusing to comment on the particular case. “ There are cases being looked at by the MSFA and the courts, you may want action, and I have no issue with you asking the MFSA these questions, at the end of the day this is normal in a democratic country.”

However, MFSA declined to comment to questions sent regarding Pilatus Bank and Nexia BT, and was no willing to divulge any confidential information on its licence holders or their related parties.

“The Authority remains committed to protect the general interests of any current or prospective investors and the general public in terms of Law. Please note that if the MFSA had to take any regulatory action, it will be published on the Authority’s website.”

The newsroom had also sent numerous questions concerning Julie Meyer, and the status of her MFSA licensed company, but the MFSA sent a dismissive reply that was practically verbatim to their previous answer, adding that “review of the conduct of Ariadne Capital Malta Ltd as part of its regulatory process remains ongoing.”


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