Bank of Valletta has pledged to lower its risk profile and to strengthen its anti-financial crime structures, polices and systems after it lost its last correspondent bank for US dollars transactions.
Dutch bank ING will terminate its correspondence relationship with BOV in December, but the Maltese bank has said this decision was not due to shortcomings on its part.
“ING’s decision to terminate its relationship with BOV must be seen in a context where international banks are cutting down on their correspondent banking services all over the world,” a spokesperson told Lovin Malta. “This is part of a general de-risking which is taking place in the banking industry following a spate of anti-money laundering failures, especially in Europe.”
“Smaller jurisdictions like Malta are being particularly hard hit, since the volumes of business they generate are not sufficient to be of interest to the larger players, given the risks and the compliance costs involved.”
However, BOV has nevertheless committed itself to a transformation programme as part of its efforts to find alternative USD clearing arrangements.
“BOV is undergoing a transformation programme aimed at lowering its risk profile and at strengthening its anti-financial crime structures, systems and policies,” the spokesperson said. “This is a major change programme which is being carried out under the guidance of two global consultancy firms.”
“The Bank’s Board of Directors is fully confident that this programme will enable the Bank to secure alternative correspondent banking relationships well before the ING accounts are closed down in the coming December.”
Meanwhile, Malta Bankers’ Association chairman Marcel Cassar has urged the Maltese authorities and industry players to focus on preserving the reputation of the island’s financial services industry.
“We know what’s been brewing first-hand,” he told The Times of Malta. “Admittedly there are no straightforward solutions, but more needs to be done to preserve the hard-earned reputation of Malta’s financial services industry.”
“Political, regulatory and industry players should focus on presenting Malta as a place that upholds the highest standards of conduct”.