The speech of Hon Minister Evarist Bartolo addresses something that no other Member of Parliament had the courage to address. Many have been concerned about certain issues at MFSA that have been going on for a number of years as highlighted in the past by the same MP. However, no one ever had the strength and diligence to directly address it as it seems everyone is afraid of the untouchable.
With the Labour Government coming into power many hoped that the Prime Minister would address this. To the contrary Prof Bannister found his way through also with this Government. It seems like this is the only person in this country that has some financial services knowledge! Far from being the case. Many do question the relationship , if any, of Prof Bannister with Keith Schembri , particularly following the Individual Investment Programme intervention made by Prof Bannister.
If a Minister should go on the Panama case what about the person that heads what should be the Financial Services Authority that states it adheres to international obligations. So from one side, we say we adhere to these obligations yet the person who heads this compliance is part and parcel of a tax haven system.
Over the years many questioned certain things on MFSA but have always fallen on deaf ears. The MFSA has over the years become Prof Bannister republic. He did a lot of good over the years yet he held back the industry on certain aspects. As mentioned by Hon Minister Evarist Bartolo one does question whether being a regulator and being a director on a fund is in any way a conflict of interest. Of course it does, but it seems that both parties are comfortable with this. Like the Panama case this brings many questions that remain not answered. Does the MFSA hold information about our Members of Parliament that they cannot act? In Hon Dr Simon Busuttil’s own words if someone cannot act than there must be something wrong. However, this seems to apply for Government MPs for Hon Dr Busuttil. If he is elected Prime Minister will he make the heads of our authorities transparent and make sure they act in the best interest of the country?
If the Prime Minister Dr Joseph Muscat is going to act viz a viz the Panama matter, he should act with respect to heads of Authorities who may give the wrong messages. Malta is not a tax haven yet the Chairman of the Financial services seems to be Director in similar jurisdictions. Is this the right message? Sadly it is another bad message that Malta is giving.
Time to take the necessary measures without further delay.