Malta’s consumers and business are constantly evolving, and the country’s authorities, operators and registers that take care of them are constantly adapting to keep up to date.
For Kenneth Brincat, the Chief Operations Officer at the Malta Business Registry, “transformation isn’t only necessary when it comes to implementing a particular reform, but also to ensure that the Malta Business Registry (MBR) meets customer demands, improve its service offerings, and updates its data in a timely manner”.
For those who don’t know, the Malta Business Registry is the government agency responsible for the registration and compliance of commercial partnerships including companies and legal entities in Malta. Essentially, every company and its portfolio forms part of the agency’s register, which is also responsible for issuing certificates of good standing, publishing notices, and collecting penalties.
There’s a lot that the MBR is responsible for, and with that responsibility comes a demand to ensure that it stays on top of its game so that your company’s obligations are in order.
In 2020, over 3,328 new companies were created, 1,450 dissolved and 11,289 struck off as defunct.
This huge growth and change in the volume of data, according to Brincat means that the MBR has had to transform its operations by primarily investing heavily in its people and technology.
Here’s a rundown of what the MBR has done to optimise its operations for today’s standards.
As business protocol, processes and procedures become more rigorous, the need for more manpower to ensure their effective execution becomes greater.
Since its demerger from the Malta Financial Services Authority in 2018, the MBR has grown from a workforce of 51 to 97 by the end of 2020.
Moreover, the increase in numbers was also supplemented by the acquisition of new skills and knowledge, with employees undergoing further training as part of a strategy to tackle skill deficits.
In addition to tackling soft skills such as confidence, employees also underwent training in AML, Financial Risk Mitigation and Anti-Financing of Terrorism with over 438 sessions held last year alone. The MBR has also pushed for more highly skilled digital and IT staff in order to align with its desire to remain technologically efficient.
The most notable increase in human resources was seen in the Registry Unit as well as the newly-established Legal and Enforcement and Compliance Units.
The Compliance Unit is responsible for on-site reviews of companies to determine whether information filed with the Registrar of Companies regarding beneficial ownership is accurate and up-to-date, as well as for shareholder (Beneficial Owners) and officer reviews both in proposed companies and when changes are effected in existing ones.
To this end, the Compliance Unit has intensified its activities by conducting screening using Know-Your-Customer (KYC) database prior to the inclusion of directors in the incorporation process of new companies and/or following changes in the control powers of existing companies. The same applies for shareholders and/or beneficial owners both at the incorporation stage or whenever there is a change in the ownership of the Company.
Legal and Enforcement Unit
The new Legal and Enforcement Unit is meanwhile responsible for submitting proposals for necessary legislative changes to Parliament. In 2020, it drafted new MOUs to facilitate information sharing between the MBR and relevant authorities to ensure that the data submitted is accurate and up-to-date.
This Unit has also been involved in the preparation of notices required by law to take irregular companies out of circulation, with the four lawyers in the unit executing such letters. These lawyers represent and defend the Registrar of Companies in court and provide legal advice to the Registrar and staff, as well as guidance to practitioners and officers of companies.
The Unit had a busy year in the enforcement of fines, and, to this end, a legal procurator was added to the team to routinely enforce fines. Even more the Legal and Enforcement Unit is also responsible of the registration of foundations and associations.
We live in a digital world where everything can be done and delivered online. The MBR is embracing that at the core of its operations by fully digitalising all processes with its new online system, which is set to be rolled out in the coming weeks.
This includes services to those who require MBR data – which was accessed over 4,302,405 (Page Views) / 1,877,525 (Sessions) times last year. It also includes upgrading its IT capacity so that critical information can be gathered in a quick and efficient manner, whilst also cutting down on paper usage.
In fact, the new digital system will replace all remaining paper-based systems and services, which in turn will help reduce errors as processes will become automated. In doing so, the MBR will be in a better position to identify suspicious activity within its systems, make better linkages between data, and take advantage of the information being gathered.
The MBR has done a lot to transform and optimise its processes to reflect the needs of a digital consumer, from human resources to technology. In fact, Mr Brincat stated that “the MBR’s strategic thinking, also derived from its Strategic Plan 2020-2025, drives such operational transformation by enriching its capabilities through the design, implementation, and ongoing deployment of specific programmes and innovative solutions appropriate for its operations, both today and tomorrow.”
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