The Malta Independent 1 February 2023, Wednesday
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BOV says extra charges essential to support fight against financial crime

Saturday, 17 December 2022, 09:54 Last update: about 3 months ago

Bank of Valletta said charges have been increases as a measure which is essential in the fight against financial crime.

The Bank said it has informed its business customers that the monthly administration fee had to be increased to reflect the additional costs being incurred to carry out its Anti-Financial Crime (AFC) obligations. 

AFC regulations and expected processes and controls have become more rigorous and onerous in recent years. Such requirements are reflected in the country’s legal framework, where a main priority at a national level is that of combatting financial crime, money laundering and related unlawful activities.

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The bank was reaction to criticism after this week it sent out a letter to its business clients, informing them that the administration fee - previously known as the account maintenance fee - will go up from €10 to €30 monthly due to added costs related to regulatory checks and balances. The surge was criticised by the Malta Chamber of SMEs, which had already disputed the €10 fee a few years back, arguing it was unjustified. It said the bank is abusing its dominant position in the local market to make more money.

In its statement to clarify its position, the Bank’s AFC practices as reflected in the Bank’s Compliance and Regulatory framework, had to be markedly enhanced over the last few years to keep it in line with the evolving regulatory demands and supervisory expectations. This essentially entails substantial and continuous investment both from a human resources and technological perspective.  Such investment is deemed to be of critical importance not only for the Bank, but also for the financial stability of the country and for the customers in general, in a way that it fosters the right environment for investment and future growth.

The introduction of this fee, which will be applicable as from February 2023, follows lengthy discussions with the Malta Financial Services Authority and carries their no objection. This fee, which will cost each company no more than €360 per annum is in line with similar fee structures applied by other Banks in Malta and is proportionate to the services being received by our business clients.

The charges applied by Bank of Valletta are moderate when compared to other banks locally and internationally and deemed to be essential to enable investments to sustain the delivery of our services. Whilst AFC regulations are applicable to all types of customers having an active account with the Bank, the fee has only been applied to non-personal customers where the level of KYC and Due Diligence reviews and ongoing assessment requirements are more demanding. It is important to point out that personal customers and sole-traders have been excluded from the application of this fee.

The Bank said it strives to seek a balance between its endeavour to serve the business community to the best possible levels whilst at the same times ensures that it observes regulation and combats financial crime in a proactive manner. The Bank does appreciate that incremental costs for the business entities do create their own challenges. The Bank is however similarly cognisant that investing in a robust a wide and encompassing AFC framework does further assist in the achievement of a sustainable and forward-looking economic environment earmarked to support the generation of further investment and economic growth.

 

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