The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) is the
single regulator for financial services activities in Malta. It
regulates and supervises credit and financial institutions, investment,
trust and insurance business and also houses the country's
of Companies (the equivalent of the UK's
Companies House). The MFSA issues guidance notes, monitors local and
international developments, works with relevant parties on legislative
matters, and plays a major role in training. It encourages high
standards of compliance and runs a consumer affairs unit.
The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) was
established by law on 23 July 2002. It is a fully autonomous public
institution and reports to Parliament on an annual basis. The MFSA has
taken over supervisory functions previously carried out by the Central
Bank of Malta, the Malta Stock Exchange and the Malta Financial Services
Centre and is the single regulator for financial services. The sector
incorporates all financial activity including banking, investment and
insurance. The MFSA also manages the
Malta Registry of Companies and has also
taken over responsibility as the Listing Authority.
The organisational structure of the MFSA ensures that
the regulatory and operational functions of the Authority are exercised
within strict legal demarcations. The Board of Governors, presided by
the Chairman, sets out policy and general direction and is assisted by
the Legal and International Affairs Unit. The Director of this Unit is
also the Secretary to the Board of Governors. The Supervisory Council,
headed by the Director General, is exclusively responsible for issuing
licenses and regulation and is composed of the Directors responsible for
Banking, Securities, Pensions, Insurance, Company Compliance, Corporate
and Trustee Services. Operations are the responsibility of the Board of
Management and Resources composed of the Directors responsible for
Business Development, Human Resources, Information Technology and
Administration led by the Chief Operations Officer. Co-ordination
between these two organs is ensured at Co-ordination Committee level.
Over the past decade, Malta has moved from being an
offshore to an onshore jurisdiction. It has completed a programme of
reforming all its finance sector legislation in line with international
best practice and was one of the first six countries in the world to
reach an advanced accord on fiscal matters with the Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). As a result of this
agreement Malta is NOT considered as a tax haven. It is actively
involved with the OECD, the EU and the Commonwealth in modelling global
Malta’s finance industry has benefited significantly
from the country’s national policy of moving to the mainstream.
Financial services is the fastest growing sector of the Maltese economy
and one of the most important employers of trained professional staff.
Creating the MFSA as a single regulator was a
structured part of Malta’s long term strategy to create a mainstream
finance centre in the country. Malta is a jurisdiction that follows and
helps develop international best practice.
Finance companies have benefited from a reduction in
bureaucracy, streamlined procedures, lower fees and compliance costs and
a more consistent implementation of standards.
The MFSA is also responsible for consumer education
and consumer protection in the financial services sector. This function
is vested in the Consumer Complaints Manager.
The MFSA has a staff of over 130 people, consisting of
specialist regulators, lawyers, accountants and support staff that are
involved in communications and organisational administration.
The consumer therefore has one single point of
decision making and policy creation. More importantly, the founding of
the MFSA means that Malta now has one skilled, experienced and powerful
body seeking to protect consumers whilst encouraging fair and open
competition in the financial services sector.
The International Tax Unit of the Inland Revenue
Department and the
Companies Registry are also housed at the MFSA's
offices and have the task of ensuring that all taxation and company
registration matters relating to international activity are dealt with
swiftly and effectively. The International Tax Unit is also responsible
for issuing advance revenue rulings which give certainty to the tax
treatment of all international undertakings.
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