The MFSA, and particularly its chairman Joe Bannister, featured prominently in an article published in Der Spiegel, the popular and hard hitting German newspaper. In fact, the article even notes that Bannister held directorships in the Cayman Islands when he was not supposed to do so following an investigation by Green MEP Sven Giegold.
Hereunder is a translation of the article:
Malta is one of the tax havens in the EU. With controversial practices the Mediterranean island lures rich corporations and rich individuals. All the greater was the hullaballoo when it became known that the long-standing head of the Maltese Financial (MFSA) was involved in dubious transactions: Joseph Bannister, who leads the MFSA for 20 years, served simultaneously as director of several funds in the Cayman Islands – one of the places that are still known as tax havens such as Malta.
At the instigation of the Greens-European politician Sven Giegold, the heads of the EU financial supervisory authorities delved into the case. This was not without consequences: Bannister held directorships that had nothing to do with the operating business and he “resigned with immediate effect” after the investigation was announced. According to the reply given to the heads of authorities in Giegold’s office, he had followed their instructions.
The EU Court of Auditors takes revenge
But that was not all. The goings-on at the MFSA also surfaced on this occasion. Bannister had informed them of the ethical guidelines of the Maltese Authority, writing to the heads of the EU authorities. It has been found that the rules for the Board and its Chairman Bannister “were less stringent than for employees”.
Bannister has now pledged also to submit both the Board and himself to the rules that also apply to the rest of the workforce. The head of the European Banking Authority (EBA), the Authority for Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) welcomes the explicit statement: “The ethics rules for the Board and its Chairman should be at least as strict as those for the staff.”
Recently Malta was also mentioned with its role in the tax scandal surrounding the Panama Papers and with the sale of EU passports to wealthy immigrants causing resentment in the EU. MEPs retaliated in their own way: On came Leo Brincat, the next candidate for Malta’s seat on the European Court of Auditors, to apply to the European Parliament hearing – and he was rejected by 381 to 229 votes. “This national humiliation”, commented the “Malta Independent”, “was predictable.”
Maltawinds has consistently been following the goings-on at the MFSA and it seems that these have also reached the echelons of the foreign press as well as political institutions such as the European Parliament.