Caruana pledges correspondent banking will be retained

Miguela Xuereb

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana pledged to ensure that Maltese banks would not be left without US dollar correspondent banks, even though he sought to downplay the reputational implications of the present situation.

Parliamentary debate on a bill which would transpose EU legislation – and which was in itself uncontroversial – saw Nationalist MPs Kristy Debono and Mario de Marco criticise the reputational damage which, they argued, the government had brought on Malta.

But Caruana sought to suggest that the loss of correspondent banking services – offering transactions in other currencies on behalf of local banks – was simply an economic consideration for the foreign banks involved. He argued that would-be correspondent banks determined that the minimal profits derived from offering such services in Malta was not worth it.

Nevertheless, he said that in the coming weeks, he would start holding a series of meetings with the aim of securing the continuation of correspondent banking services in Malta.

He also pledged to address longstanding governance issues and to ensure that Malta would pass a crucial assessment by Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering body.