Enhancing quality, upholding the rule of law: accountancy professionals and Registrar of Companies share common objectives in frank discussion

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The provision of timely, reliable and complete documentation, in observance of established rules and regulations is in the common interest of practitioners and the Malta Business Registry. This key message was highlighted during an exchange of views between the newly-appointed Registrar of Companies and Chief Executive Officer of the Malta Business Registry, Dr Geraldine Spiteri Lucas and a sizeable number of professionals who attended a Malta Institute of Accountants’ Event themed The Malta Business Registry: Addressing defaults and concerns.

Introducing the event, MIA President David Delicata recalled the Institute’s efforts to keep the industry and practitioners updated with the latest developments emanating from amendments to legislation and regulations and to communications issued by regulators, highlighting the Institute’s role as a bridge between the industry and the authorities.

Ms Maria Cauchi Delia, CEO of the Institute said that the Institute strives to push its members towards quality and integrity, but at the same time called on the Registrar to consider the challenges faced by professionals in a rapidly changing landscape.

From her end, Dr Spiteri Lucas addressed a number of issues that concern accountants, auditors and other industry professionals, replying to a number of questions spontaneously asked by the audience. The discussion covered recent regulatory developments, including amendments to the Companies Act, changes to the UBO register, the upcoming launch of a new Registry online system which is currently in testing phase and other practical challenges faced by professionals both those acting as accountants or auditors for specific companies, or even as providers of CSP services.

The Registrar insisted that the regulator’s objective is to “instil a culture of observance of the rules. If companies fail to publish their financial statements on time, this is ultimately unfair towards those companies who submit the necessary documentation on time. The same applies for beneficial ownership information”. In this context, she insisted that the Registry’s imposition of fines is not its ultimate objective, but rather to ensure observance of the law. She also emphasised the importance of subject persons to report discrepancies in beneficial ownership information to the MBR. Dr Spiteri Lucas also noted that the new feedback tool launched few weeks ago, in relation to beneficial ownership information, has already been used by more than 5k individuals.
A number of practitioners highlighted some of the most pressing challenges faced on a regular basis, particularly the lack of availability of human resources, and pandemic-restrictions to travelling, which has made obtaining certain documentation for companies with an international presence or ownership, harder. The participants also shared a number of practical suggestions on ways to improve the relationship between practitioners and the MBR, including with regards to the handling of documentation.
Concluding the seminar, Ms Cauchi Delia reiterated the Institute’s commitment to enhance the strong relationship with the MBR and to facilitate similar exchanges in the near future.

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