MFSA Conference - Onshore Europe
SEPTEMBER 13, 2004

The Malta Financial Services Authority has organised a conference to mark Malta’s successful ten-year programme of building an onshore jurisdiction in the EU mainstream.

Ten years ago, a major reform in legislation led to the setting up of the Malta Financial Services Centre, now the Malta Financial Services Authority, to consolidate the regulatory framework and spearhead the development of a modern finance industry. In the process Malta’s preferential regime for offshore companies was phased out and EU standards adopted through the transposition of EU legislation. It was precisely this transformation, which culminated into the granting of access to the EU market through the “single passporting” rules, that has completed Malta’s transition from a an offshore centre to an integral part of the European market where operators can compete on the basis of a single set of rules.

This process did not come without challenges. The Maltese financial services community has had to deal with major strategic challenges including the preparation for EU membership, benchmarking to international regulatory best practice and embracing the initiatives for ensuring global financial stability.

In the intervening period, the MFSA has been also closely involved in the wide ranging regulatory debate on the international front that has had to address issues of importance to the global financial system including money laundering, terrorist financing, corporate governance, the technology bubble, tax competition and trade liberalisation amongst others.

The conference to mark this historic chapter for Maltese financial services touched on most of these issues. The Conference was held today at the Hilton Conference Centre. Around 300 delegates attended the conference. These included high ranking officials from the government bodies, financial authorities, diplomatic entities and other financial institutions in the financial services industry.

The speakers that were specifically invited for this conference were:-

Mr Pierre Delsaux who is the Head of Unit, DG Internal Market at the European Commission that includes company law, corporate governance and financial crime. Mr Delsaux was also Secretary of the Lamfalussy Group.

Dr Arthur Docters van Leeuwen who is the Chairman of the Committee of European Securities Regulators (CESR). Dr van Leeuwen has been chairman of the Executive Board of the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets since September 1999. Dr van Leeuwen’s address was delivered by Mr Wim Moeliker, a senior official of CESR.

Prof Joseph V. Bannister who is the MFSA Chairman of the Malta Financial Services Authority since 1999 and was also Chairman of the Malta Development Corporation, Tri-Med Fund Management Limited and Mid-Med Bank Overseas Limited. He is currently also the pro-rector of the University of Malta and serves as independent director representing international institutions on the Board of Directors of a number of overseas investment funds.

Mr Piero Ugolini who joined the International Monetary Fund in 1972 and who has been working in the Monetary and Financial Systems Department since 1990 and is currently the Assistant Director and in charge of the Monetary and Foreign Exchange Operations Division. Throughout his career Mr Ugolini has been involved in research, surveillance and technical assistance areas.

Mr Michael C. Bonello who is the Governor of the Central Bank of Malta since October 1999. Mr Bonello has served as President of the Malta Branch of the Chartered Institute of Bankers and sat on the Councils of the Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Industry. In 1983 Mr Bonello joined the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Geneva where he served until 1999.

The Hon. Prime Minister Dr. Lawrence Gonzi gave the opening address. The speakers delivered presentations on The Single Market in Financial Services (Mr Pierre Delsaux), The Regulation of Financial Markets (Dr. Arthur Docters van Leeuwen), The Single Regulator in Financial Services - The Maltese Model (Prof Joseph V. Bannister), The Significance of IMF Financial Sector Assessment Programmes (Mr Piero Ugolini) and The Central Bank and Financial Stability (Mr Michael C Bonello).

All the presentations were very well received by the audience and the concluding remarks wrapped up the highly successful conference.