FIAU rules out immediate changes to ‘unconstitutional’ fines: FIAU does not currently intend to modify the manner in which it imposes its administrative penalties, a practice that the court has repeatedly deemed unconstitutional. The anti-money laundering agency is deferring any changes to its penalty procedures until the courts of appeal provide a final verdict on this matter. According to Alfred Zammit, the acting director of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU), these court rulings are not conclusive. Thus, the FIAU will maintain its operations within the existing legal framework until the appeals are resolved. Zammit explained that “the judgments have been appealed. We need to ensure that we have a robust and technically sound system, so the appeals will provide us with clarity. Meanwhile, we will continue to levy fines in accordance with the current legal provisions.” He made these comments in response to several constitutional court judgments that have declared the FIAU’s method of imposing administrative penalties for breaches of anti-money laundering regulations as unconstitutional.
Enemalta replaces CEO
Enemalta has replaced its CEO, Jonathan Cardona, a mere two months after Energy Minister Miriam Dalli refuted rumors of his impending dismissal. According to a statement from the company, Cardona will transition to a “new career opportunity” following a two-week handover period. Rather than appoint a new CEO, Enemalta has chosen to grant its chairperson, Ryan Fava, executive authority. The utility company was blamed by many for lack of infrastructural investment following a series of prolonged powercut this Summer.
Jobless rate at 2.8% Malta’s monthly unemployment rate remained stable at 2.8% the NSO said. This reflects a slight increase of 0.1 percentage points compared to the prior month. Despite this marginal month-on-month uptick in the unemployment rate for September 2023, it also signifies a reduction of 0.1 percentage points when compared to the same month in the previous year. In September 2023, the total count of jobless individuals amounted to 8,423, with the majority belonging to the male demographic and those aged between 25 and 74.
Minimum wage to increase over next four years
Prime Minister Robert Abela announced an agreement to incrementally raise the minimum wage over the next four years. In an evening statement, the Prime Minister specified that these increases would be in addition to cost-of-living adjustments. No further details were provided regarding this agreement, which was established after the formation of a “Low Wage Commission” in March. This commission brought together social partners and the government to propose methods for enhancing the national minimum wage Abela confirmed that the recommendations put forward by the commission would be implemented. Malta’s current minimum wage stands at €835.16 per month, the lowest among EU Member States which actually have established such a mechanism. (Times of Malta)
Reporting of suspicious transactions increases by 19% – FIAU
According to the latest annual report from the FIAU, there was a 19% increase in the number of suspicious transaction reports (STR) filed across the financial sectors in 2022, totaling more than 8,700 reports. Notably, approximately 58% of these reports were submitted by remote gaming companies. Suspicious transaction reports are submitted to the anti-money laundering agency by various entities, including banks, legal professionals, gaming companies, casinos, and real estate agencies. They are required when large sums of money and their source cannot be adequately explained. A significant surge in the submission of suspicious reports was observed from virtual financial assets (VFAs) agents. In 2022, VFAs filed 965 suspicious reports, a substantial increase compared to the eight reports they filed in 2019. (Maltatoday)
Government seeking compensation from Steward
The government is pursuing compensation from Steward HealthCare based on two contractual obligations that were not fulfilled, Health Minister Chris Fearne said. These unmet obligations relate to the company’s failure to attract medical tourism to the country and their failure to construct a new hospital in Gozo. Fearne, speaking in Parliament, indicated that he couldn’t disclose the specific monetary amount being sought from Steward due to confidentiality regulations governing cases within the International Chamber of Commerce. When questioned by Nationalist Party MPs during Wednesday’s plenary session, he pointed out that Steward did not meet two of the three contractual obligations. The only obligation they fulfilled was the maintenance of the existing healthcare services provided by the hospitals. (The Malta Independent)