The Malta Independent 13 August 2022, Saturday

MBR annual review: Inspections up by 85% over previous year

Monday, 27 June 2022, 16:51 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Malta Business Registry has published its Annual Report and Financial Statements for the year ending 31st December of 2021, which show a significant increase in inspections and screening of applications.

In 2021 the Registry Unit registered 215,920 documents, reviewed 4,525 name reservations, issued 38,930 certificates and 6,257 certified true copies of registered documents. Moreover, a total of 3504 new companies were registered. Noticeably are the outcomes of the Compliance Unit which despite adversities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, pursued by conducting onsite inspections which were carried out as per Regulation 12 of the Companies Act (Register of Beneficial Owners Regulations).

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Despite pandemic restrictions, inspections increased by 85% over 2020 – up 701 to 1,529. The Unit carried out significant work in relation to the screening of involvements. An amount of 192 screening was done on founders of legal organisations, 2,537 with regards to administrators and other local representatives of other legal organisations, 6,056 were directors of proposed new companies, 7661 were Beneficial Owners of proposed new companies, 9,010 screening of individuals of companies struck off with the defunct procedure and 45,409 were directors, shareholders, and beneficial owners of existing companies.

Evidently, the MBR went from strength to strength in its screening procedures. Compared to the previous year, there was an increase of 28% in the screening of shareholders and an increase of 20% in the screening of directors proposed for new incorporations.

In addition, there was an 89% increase in forms being reviewed, reflecting a 66% increase in the amount of screening related to forms.

Additionally, the MBR Compliance Unit carried out a risk assessment on commercial partnerships with a specific focus on BO information through collaboration with local authorities and institutions. Significantly is the number of rejections on proposed legal entities.

The number of proposed new organisations rejected by the Foundations and Associations Unit is 10, new companies rejected by Registry Unit was 365 whereas the number of new companies rejected by the Compliance Unit was 470.

Furthermore, in 2021 through the Legal and Enforcement unit, a total of 66 lawsuits were opened 2021, of which 16 were decided in the same year after the companies had regularised their position by submitting the pending documentation and settled all the fines. Moreover, several legislative initiatives were taken, particularly in putting forward a myriad of amendments that were eventually translated into law.

These include new responsibilities for the Registrar to pursue a broader role for the entity as a supervisory authority. An important step forward was to provide the competent authorities with the details of persons subject to anti-money laundering investigations and enforcements. Simultaneously, the entity strived to implement European Directives and Regulations, most notably those pertaining to company law, particularly those related to the field of digitalization.

Hence, where necessary, company law was amended to reflect such changes, as well as introduce new processes to existing procedures, such as the setting up of a company, submission of related documents, both during the formation and throughout its lifespan, all of which can be made online.

A meticulous process that will be completed during 2022 and one which must ensure the authentication and verification of the submitted documents.

‘The Malta Business Registry pursued with its stance in imposing new obligations, the issue of fines and enforcement. These were deemed necessary to ensure a transparent registry, always in the best interest of the business community and the Maltese jurisdiction. As tedious a task as it may be, rather than a police state approach, as it may often be perceived by many, the Malta Business Registry aims to serve as a guiding beacon for our practitioners and businesses. This is the mindset I have strived to establish as soon as I took on the role of CEO and Registrar of this entity’ said Dr. Geraldine Spiteri Lucas.

A significant achievement for the MBR was the reward of the HR Quality Mark for another consecutive year. This followed a thorough assessment by the Foundation for Human Resources Development. A reward that recognizes the professionalism, competence, and contribution of the HR function to any organization.

‘All in all, the Malta Business Registry made it its ultimate mission to date to ensure an up-to-date registry to provide peace of mind to the business community when doing business to safeguard the Maltese jurisdiction. In fact, we ensured to wholly implement FATF Recommendations. Whilst at the very start of the overhaul currently in place there was resistance, I am pleased to note that over the past year there was a sense of culture change with practitioners committed to adapting and offering a better service to our clientele. Saying so, the Malta Business Registry plays a key role amongst other authorities, hence, I appeal to companies, practitioners and service providers to see us as an essential partner that will guide them through endeavours’ said Dr. Spiteri Lucas.

The Minister for the Economy, European Funds and Lands Silvio Schembri thanked the Malta Business Registry for their commitment especially during this year. "It has been a very busy year for you as a business registry, but the necessary goals have been met. This experience has taught us a lot and all the positive practices will continue to ensure that we have a strong business register that is ready to meet the challenges," said Minister Silvio Schembri.

Link to Annual Report: https://mbr.mt/annual-report-2021/ 

 

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