The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

Egrant case: ‘Nobody is in favour of creating instability and crises’ – Finance Minister

Tuesday, 25 April 2017, 17:04 Last update: about 6 years ago

"Nobody is in favour of creating instability and crises," Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said today when asked about recent statements made by entities expressing concern about the financial services sector.

The institute of Financial Services Practitioners had said that it is very concerned about the events that have unfolded over the past week, "which will undoubtedly result in the questioning of our island's reputation and consequently have a detrimental impact on its attractiveness as a domicile of choice for international investors." It said that In particular the IFSP is particularly concerned that the ethical fibre of the entire financial services industry in Malta is being called into question in such a facetious manner. 

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Finance Minister Scicluna was asked whether he is concerned with these kinds of statements, to which he said that everyone is concerned. "If bankers say they are concerned, if the MEA are concerned etc. then who can say they aren't concerned. In a democratic country it is important to have strong institutions with heads who are of a certain calibre able to answer and do their work tranquilly. Institutions - MFSA, Central Bank, FIAU etc are institutions that we strengthen through scrutiny. But one cannot interfere with their work. When one has the FIAU led by an Attorney General, with his Deputy being a former Moneyval Chairman, my mind is at ease that they are doing their job and are experts. The same can be said about the other institutions."

Asked whether, in the name of transparency, the FIAU should publish the inquiries into the Panama Papers, he said that he will not tell them that. "There is a board that meets, discusses etc, and they decide what they can do. Personally, I wish they could clarify when there are certain misunderstandings, however regarding whether they can pass on details of cases as the law tells them what they can or can't do. If there are certain statements which are not true, they should clarify. But I will not tell them what instance as I have no control over the FIAU."

He said that the law prohibits FIAUs in Europe from publishing their findings. "The practice is the same for all FIAUs in Europe, so should the FIAU in Malta be allowed to publish their reports when the others in Europe cannot?"

 The actual press conference, also addressed by Economy Minister chris Cardona, was about measures announced in the budget, aimed at helping SMEs. Government, for one year, is reducing the tax on business transfers from parents to their children to 1.5%, down from 5%.

The Minister also insisted that he was not aware of the FIAU reporting shortcomings at Pilatus Bank, saying he does not have access to that kind of information.

The end of the press conference got heated, with the Finance Minister choosing to leave the podium, while being grilled about action taken against Minister Konrad Mizzi and OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri following the Panama Papers revelations, and whether the Prime Minister's position is still tenable. 


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