MALTA: No 'exodus' of businesses because of greylisting, says MFSA chair John Mamo.

As published on maltatoday.com.mt, Wednesday 2 February, 2022.

Prof. John Mamo, chairman of the Board of Governors of the Malta Financial Services Authority said there has no been no "exodus" of businesses leaving Malta because of the FATF greylisting.

Mamo appeared before the Public Appointments Committee on Wednesday, during which he was confirmed as chairman for another year, with four votes in favour and three against. Opposition MPs voted against, saying not enough has been done to get Malta off the greylist.

"We will help with the national effort to get out of the greylisting as soon as possible, as we are aware this affects not just the financial services but also Malta's economy," Mamo said when questioned on the issue.

He explained work has been done on the UBO (Ultimate Beneficial Owner) register but said more is to be done with regards to tax evasion. Mamo acknowledged business has slowed down and said "no one is happy with the greylisting".

He said that 56 companies forming one group, left Malta, but remarked this was not the result of greylisting. "They had already decided to leave and they left once Malta was greylisted. A good number of companies have invested in Malta since then."

Mamo emphasised it is difficult to prove whether and which companies opted not to invest in Malta, because of the greylisting. "There's no denying there are inconveniences and that's why we want to get out as soon as possible."

During the hearing, Mamo was questioned by PN MP Carm Mifsud Bonnici about the interview new MFSA CEO Joseph Gavin had with Times of Malta, last December. Gavin had walked out of the interview over objections to the line of questioning.

"It was a comedy of errors," Mamo said. "It was unfortunate as it looks like no ground rules were set. Joe Gavin was under the impression the interview would have been about his past experiences and Jacob Borg conducted and investigative interview."

"When the questions delved into Pilatus Bank and the 'revolving door' policies, Gavin could not understand anything. He was greatly disappointed," Mamo said.

He said Gavin did not want the interview to air, and by "killing it", he thought the inteview would be scrapped and possibly started over.

"Gavin should not be judged over an interview. He has great qualities and he went through a robust selection process. We are not at all dissatisfied with our choice," Mamo said.