HSBC Bank Malta CEO Andrew Beane has cautioned that efforts to safeguard Malta’s financial services reputation needed to be stepped up in the wake of the increasing scrutiny it has come under during the last year.

The CEO made this call when asked to elaborate on the remarks he made yesterday when addressing HSBC shareholders on the latest financial results.

In his address, Mr Beane des-cribed 2017 as a year in which Malta’s reputation in the financial services sector was put into question. He also laid emphasis on the bank’s efforts to beef up due diligence structures and adopt a cautious and low-risk approach.

Asked by the Times of Malta if he was concerned that the increased scrutiny on Malta’s financial services could have negative repercussions, Mr Beane noted that more work had to be done to promote Malta as “a great place to do business internationally”, specifically within the financial services industry.

He added that HSBC had invested significantly to raise their compliance standards while pointing out that this effort had to be done across the board.

A great place to do business internationally

“It is essential that all banks large or small are able to make that same pace of change or progress, because if we cannot demonstrate compliance with these standards it will be increasingly hard to do business with international markets,” he said.

Only last December, Malta avoided being labelled as a tax haven by the European Parliament with the narrowest of margins, just one vote.

Later this year the Council of Europe’s anti-money-laundering body – Moneyval (Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism) – will be coming to Malta to assess its rules and practices. Touching on this matter, Mr Beane remarked that it was essential for the Maltese financial services industry to get “a clean bill of health”.

“It is clear there have been challenges in the past year and it is important that Malta is seen for more positive reasons moving forward. With confidence comes investment and with investment comes growth,” he added. 

In his outlook for 2018, Mr Beane said that amidst the positive economic landscape it was essential that growth remained broad-based and sustainable.

The HSBC CEO had a word of caution for what he described as an “increasing level of long-term risk in the local bond market”, which he said had become a “greater cause for concern”.

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