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Brussels wants MFSA scrutinised for potential conflicts of interest

Timmermans highlights 'apparent lack of action' against certain 'private banks'

European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans. Photo: Reuters

European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans. Photo: Reuters

The European Banking Authority should see whether the Maltese financial services watchdog fulfilled its obligations given the “apparent lack of action” against certain private banks, Frans Timmermans said.

Mr Timmermans, the European Commission’s vice president, was replying to a letter by Socialist MEP Ana Gomes who expressed her concerns on reports by the Daphne Project, a consortium of journalists working on stories that were being followed by Daphne Caruana Galizia before she was murdered.

“The Commission fully agrees that the EBA should assess whether the Maltese banking supervisors are fully equipped and free from conflicts of interest to perform their supervisory duties,” Mr Timmermans told Ms Gomes.

The Commission, he added, should also look at whether the MFSA had fulfilled its obligations given what he believed was “an apparent lack of action against private banking institutions that continue to hold a licence to provide services in the EU”.

READ: EU's banking watchdog starts looking into FIAU

“As a consequence, the Commission has called on the EBA to ensure that financial institutions in Malta satisfy the requirements laid down in Union anti-money laundering legislation, in particular requesting EBA to investigate a possible breach or non-application of Union law by the Maltese competent authorities in relation to Pilatus Bank,” Mr Timmermans said.

We need to come to full disclosure on what happened

He said Brussels continued to monitor the situation in Malta closely, especially in light of the Daphne Project reports.

“The Commission is ascertaining every new piece of information brought to the table, including those brought by the Daphne Project. Should the Commission see scope and determine it has competence to act on that information, we will certainly do so,” Mr Timmermanns said.

He reiterated that the Commission expected an “independent and thorough” investigation into Ms Caruana Galizia’s murder, adding that “no stone should remain unturned”.

“We need to come to full disclosure on what happened, why it has happened and who is responsible,” Mr Timmermans commented.

Dismissing claims by Ms Gomes that the Commission was “unacceptably complacent”, he said the situation in Malta was carefully assessed and Justice Commissioner Vera Jourová’s visit on Thursday and today was a testament to this.

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