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Prime Minister assumes responsibility for financial services regulations

But ministry insists nothing has changed

The financial services watchdog authority has repeatedly come under fire in recent months.

The financial services watchdog authority has repeatedly come under fire in recent months.

The Prime Minister has assumed political responsibility for financial services regulation, according to official information.

This resulted from a notice listing the responsibilities of every ministry that appeared on the Malta Government Gazette earlier this week. A similar notice published a year earlier listed financial services regulation, which includes the overseeing of the Malta Financial Services Authority among others, under the Finance Ministry.

Separate notices in the Malta Government Gazette showing how financial services regulation changed ministerial remit.Separate notices in the Malta Government Gazette showing how financial services regulation changed ministerial remit.

A Finance Ministry spokesman, however, insisted when contacted that nothing had changed with regard to the portfolio that was assigned to the minister at the beginning of this legislature last year.

Questions sent to the Office of the Prime Minister on what had prompted the change and if the move suggested the Prime Minister was unsatisfied with Prof. Scicluna’s performance were still not answered at the time of writing.

The financial services watchdog authority has repeatedly come under fire in recent months, most notably since the European Banking Authority opened a “preliminary inquiry” into the way the Maltese regulator supervised the now-defunct Pilatus Bank.

The European Commission had asked the EBA to see whether the MFSA was fully equipped and free from conflicts of interest to perform its supervisory duties. It was also asked to establish whether the regulator had fulfilled its obligations as a national supervisory authority in view of what an EBA spokeswoman said was an “apparent lack of action against Pilatus Bank and Nexia BT”.

Prof. Scicluna had eventually argued that Brussels had put political pressure on the EBA to make an example of Malta.

Read: Keeping up appearances - Edward Scicluna

In a Talking Point in the Times of Malta last month, the minister said the pressure from the European Commission led the EBA to take action in the anti-money-laundering field for the first time at EU level.

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