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MIA News

  • 12 Dec 2019 10:29 | Deleted user
    The 5th Round Mutual Evaluation Report on Malta published by MoneyVal analysed the level of effectiveness of Malta’s Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) system and sets out a number of recommendations to strengthen Malta’s AML/CFT regime.
    On the 12th of December, the Malta Institute of Accountants (MIA) held a discussion forum relating to the aftermath of the MoneyVal report. A panel consisting of representatives of the banking industry and regulatory authorities discussed the results and replied to questions from the floor. This event was attended by over 200 members. The panel was formed by Ms. Marisa Frendo, MLRO and Compliance Manager of Bank of Valletta plc; Mr. Marcel Cassar, CEO of APS Bank and Chairman of the Malta Bankers Association; Dr. Michael Xuereb, Senior Advisor to the CEO’s Office at MFSA; and Dr. Alex Mangion, Head of the FIAU’s legal unit. The panel was moderated by Mr. Fabio Axisa, the MIA President.
    Mr. Fabio Axisa opened the discussion by observing that though the MoneyVal report does not target solely the accountancy profession, it sheds a bad light on the profession in so far as compliance with AML obligations are concerned. He also highlighted the fact that the MIA met with various regulators such as the MFSA, and the Central Bank of Malta as well as with other stakeholders such as the Malta Bankers’ Association (MBA) which all relayed the same message, namely, that the accountancy profession needed to pull up its socks in so far as AML compliance is concerned. It is the objective of the MIA to ensure that its 3,500 members comply with their AML obligations in the best way possible, Mr. Axisa affirmed.
    The MIA President observed that the purpose of this discussion forum was to find out the root cause of the MoneyVal comments, to see how others view the accountancy profession and to assess how the profession can improve, listen, learn and move forward.
    Besides the various shortcomings at state level, the MoneyVal report dwells on the inefficiencies of designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs). DNFBS includes the accountancy profession, trust and company service providers, legal professionals and real estate agents, all of which have been designated in the report as being particularly vulnerable to money laundering. 
    The MoneyVal report highlighted the following points:

    1) Some DNFBPs including accountants were unable to clearly articulate how money laundering might occur within their institution or sector.
    2) Some non-bank Financial Institutions (FIs) and DNFBPs have not filed any suspicious transaction reports (STRs) nor identified any suspicious transactions internally. Most DNFBPs were unable to elaborate on typologies, transactions or activities that would give rise to an STR, particularly in relation to Financing of Terrorism (FT). 
    3) Problems related to ML/FT reporting, including the number of STRs, suggest that there might be problems with the overall understanding of the risks among the subject persons.
    4) The majority of DNFBPs expressed the view that their businesses are unlikely to be vulnerable to Money Laundering (ML) or FT. This is in direct contrast to the communicated findings of the National Risk Assessment (NRA). 
    5) Accountants were unable to clearly articulate how “control” is determined in relation to beneficial ownership of legal persons and arrangements.
    6) Several DNFBPs were not aware at all offreezing or reporting obligationsstating that they would simply refuse the transaction or exit the customer relationship.
    7) Most FIs implement daily or, in some cases, weekly screening of client and UBO databases against UN and EU lists, with the notable exception of some investment firms. Regular screening was not a consistent feature of DNFBPs’ procedures, with some accountants, trustees, company service providers and insurance agents indicating that this was undertaken as part of regular client reviews, which could be up to 2 years or more after take-on of the client. This raises concerns that existing customers who become subject of Targeted Financial Sanctions (TFS) may not be identified in a timely manner.
    8) Although certain banks demonstrated advanced awareness of the importance of transaction monitoring to detect possible sanction evasions, this was not conducted by some smaller FIs and most of the DNFBPs.
    9) Most FIs and DNFBPs were reliant on commercially provided sanctions lists and several DNFBPs were unaware of any sanction lists or other material being provided by Maltese authorities.
    The discussion revolved around these three main aspectsidentified by the moderator at the outset of the forum:
    1) The root cause of the MoneyVal comments 
    The MoneyVal evaluators criticised the FIAU, the country’s ability to investigate crime, as well as the sectors’ ability to prevent money laundering and funding of tourism cases. The panellists argued how the country, as well as all subject persons must take stock of these issues and implement the necessary recommendations to tackle them. The way forward is improving policies, procedures and supervisory visits.
    It was observed that there are number of concerns specifically related to the activity of detecting suspicious and dubious transactions. The root cause is the issue of understanding the risks. As practitioners and supervisors, accountants must be aware of the risks which they might face in order to be in a position to detect suspicious and dubious transactions when they arise.
    It was noted that although the total number of STRs has been growing steadily over the period 2013-2018, there are generally low reporting rates across the sector compared to the inherent risks of thee sector.
    Accountancy professionals have submitted 3 STRs in 2013, 2 in 2014, 4 in 2015 and 7 in 2018. There were 1,193 STRs submitted in the first 10 months of 2018, only 7 of which were done by accountancy professionals. 

    It was noted that there have been several straightforward cases analysed by the FIAU which accountants and auditors failed to report even though the cases in question did not require any elevated knowledge of risk to trigger an STR. In these cases, there were practitioners who disregarded both their AML obligations and their ethical obligations.
    The discussion highlighted the fact that there is an overall lack of awareness and sensitivity towards these issues. These shortcomings require the joint effort of both the authorities and subject persons in order to be addressed effectively. Therefore, this means further guidance by the authorities themselves coupled with a sensitisation by the professionals to the issues. On the part of accountants as subject persons, this can be done by making the issues core to their operations to detect riskycases and flag them to the FIAU for further investigation.
    The panel discussion also revolved around the ‘Raising the bar for Company Service Providers (CSPs)’ consultation document issued by MFSA which was proposed to regulate CSPs as a response to the MoneyVal report. The CSP document was perceived as one that revolutionises the way in which accountants work. The panelists concluded that the ultimate objective must in all cases be that we rebuild a reputation based on ethics and a positive approach which can only be achieved by raising the standards bar.
    2) To assess how non-accountants view the profession
    Mr. Cassar observed how in the past it was always deemed critical that Malta acts as and is perceived as a jurisdiction of strong repute, bolstered by a strong regulatory framework and embracing a high standard of business acceptance. This was a constant for several years. However, it was noted that recently the tone changed, causing a spiralling downwards of standards. Banks have been perceived as not doing enough to attract business. However, Mr. Cassar emphasised that the truth is that banks want business – but solely reputable business.
    It was observed how banks are being approached with very high-risk business which is often outside the banks’ risk appetite. Banks feel that the introducers of new companies in Malta are not well-prepared when they approach banks with new business and banks are often approached by companies with low quality management accounts and late audited accounts.
    Mr. Cassar emphasised that lawyers and accountants are the first point of contact for companies seeking to register themselves in Malta. Such professionals are approached before the banks and hence the importance that such professionals can flag risky business and report accordingly. It was also noted that some accountants and lawyers are charging an account opening fee for succeeding in opening an account with a bank for their clients. This is simply not ethical, Mr. Cassar observed.
    3) To assess how the accountancy profession can improve, listen, learn and move forward
    This open discussion summarised the various shortcomings identified by the panellists with a view of coming up with possible solutions. It was noted that the MIA has actively sought collaboration with the relevant authorities and is working to raise awareness amongst its members in so far as their AML obligations as subject persons are concerned.
    The concluding question arose: what happens if Malta fails to undertake the recommendations made by MoneyVal? Malta currently falls under the International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG). This group reviews the actions taken and the progress made. Every jurisdiction is given a one-year period which means that Malta has until October 2020 to implement and start showing results. The results achieved will ascertain whether Malta will be blacklisted or otherwise.
    Dr. Mangion explained how the FIAU has implemented an action plan which sufficiently addresses the recommendations. Indeed, 75 % of recommendations found in the MoneyVal report are already being executed.It was noted that the FIAU has filed reports with the Accountancy Board in relation to practitioners who were not behaving correctly. The FIAU is also working on signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Accountancy Board which will enable the sharing of information between the two entities and which will be beneficial for both parties. Mr. Axisa also affirmed that the MIA takes action vis-a-via malpractices and any members who are misbehaving lose their MIA membership and are reported to the Accountancy Board.
    Dr. Mangion also explained that a dedicated team within the legal section focusing on guidance and outreach has been set up with the objective of ensuring better awareness. 
    In so far as the accountancy profession is concerned, Dr. Mangion noted that, it has already been agreed with the MIA, that specific training will be delivered to members of this profession. Furthermore, the MIA and FIAU are currently collaborating in the drafting of sector-specific implementing procedures – Part II of the Implementing Procedures - which to date never existed. Such a document would assist accountants and auditors in interpreting their AML obligations such as what source of wealth checks ought to be carried out when performing an audit; what cases should be reported; what type of risks ought to be taken into consideration when performing a risk assessment; and what sort of behavior displayed by clients should raise alarms. 
    The way forward:
    In order to ensure that the profession is in line with what is expected from it in terms of AML obligations, panellists agreed that accountants must ensure regular and consistent screening of clients and ultimate beneficial owners’ databases against UN and EU sanctions lists as part and parcel of their procedures, to ensure that only legal business is retained within the Maltese jurisdiction. The acute level of lack of knowledge and awareness amongst members of the profession must also be addressed and accountants must ensure that they are fully aware of their obligations in so far as the detection of suspicious transactions and their flagging are concerned.
  • 6 Dec 2019 15:46 | Anonymous
    The Malta Institute of Accountants (MIA) has published on its web site the response to the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) Consultation: Raising the Bar for Company Service Providers (CSPs).
    Please go into the E-Library Consultations section of the web site to view the MFSA Consultation document and the MIA’s response to it.

  • 27 Nov 2019 10:00 | Deleted user
    Members of the Institute of Accountants took part in a football tournament to raise funds for Beating Hearts Malta (BHM). 20 teams representing 19 professional firms and organisations took part in the tournament and a squad from PwC played their way to the top spot.
    “As accountants we are constantly aware that our actions have an impact on the wider community,” said Institute President Fabio Axisa as he presented the winning team with the tournament trophy adding that the initiative represents the core values of the profession.
    Mr Axisa congratulated all players for their participation and sportsmanship: “The tournament is a tangible and enjoyable way to put the Institute’s prosocial culture into practice and we are encouraged by the strong response of members to this fundraising effort.”
    The initiative was organised by the MIA’s Young Members Group with the backing of the Institute. Group chairman Jean Paul Debono described the event as an opportunity for professionals to meet in a non-formal environment and contribute to a noble cause.
    The tournament raised €2,500 that will go to Beating Hearts Malta. The Institute of Accountants developed close ties with the non-profit foundation following another successful drive earlier this year through which the MIA donated a further €9,000. Beating Hearts Malta is the association for people born with Congenital Heart Defects and is currently raising money for a cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine at Mater Dei hospital.

  • 4 Nov 2019 10:00 | Deleted user
    Ryan Gellel was announced the Global Prizewinner of the ACCA taxation exam in the June 2019 session.
    The Institute congratulates Mr Gellel on his remarkable achievement and encourages him to keep investing in his professional education.
    Mr Gellel was presented with the honour by ACCA Director of Professional Education Mr Reza Ali who was accompanied by ACCA Head of Western Europe Mr Abdul Goffar, MIA President Fabio Axisa and MIA CEO Maria Cauchi Delia.
  • 24 Oct 2019 19:00 | Deleted user
    The Malta Institute of Accountants welcomed 256 new members during an official ceremony at the Malta Conference Centre on October 24. The young professionals joined the Institute after having successfully completed their study routes in one of the recognised streams: the ACCA qualification, ICAEW qualification, or University of Malta degree.
    Institute President Fabio Axisa congratulated the New Members on their success and encouraged them to keep raising the standards of quality in the profession. “This day should fill you with joy and pride, but also with responsibility,” said Mr Axisa during the President’s address. He advised young members to focus on long-term objectives, adding that he expects them to act with professionalism throughout their careers.

    MIA CEO Maria Cauchi Delia said that the Institute promotes a culture of community engagement among professionals and urged new members to “make an impact on the community, to challenge problems and contribute actively to their solution.” She pointed out that their membership of the Institute in not only meant to help them develop professionally, but personally as well. 
    The New Members’ Ceremony was attended by several distinguished guests, including ACCA Director of Professional Education, Mr Reza Ali; ACCA Head of Western Europe, Mr Abdul Goffar; University of Malta Dean of the Faculty of Economics, Management & Accountancy, Prof. Frank Bezzina; and ICAEW Head of Cyprus and Greece, Ms Christiana Diola. MIA Council members and former presidents were also among the special guests.
    In his address, Mr Ali welcomed the young members to “an ancient and great profession” citing research showing that accountancy has a history of more than six millennia. Meanwhile, Ms Diola said that the young professionals are crucial to Malta’s future, as the country continues to grow into a financial centre.
    Prof. Frank Bezzina encouraged new members to become ‘change agents’ who can improve the reputation of the profession by “standing tall and serving clients better.” He reminded the audience that the value that accountants bring to society goes beyond their core services.
    During the Ceremony, six new members were awarded individual awards for their achievements: Julija Daubaraite received the Malta Overall Performance September 2018 ACCA Top Affiliate Award; Christopher Bugeja received the Malta Overall Performance December 2018 ACCA Top Affiliate Award; Joseph Falzon received the Malta Overall Performance March 2019 ACCA Top Affiliate Award; Dinah Lee Delceppo received the Malta Overall Performance June 2019 ACCA Top Affiliate Award. Kostas Karagiannis received the ACA Best Student 2019 Award while Janice Camilleri was the recipient of the Best University of Malta Accountancy Student Award 2019.
    Institute member Christopher Cardona was awarded the Kevin Mahoney Award for Altruism for his selfless support to a colleague who was going through a difficult time. The annual prize recognises professionals who distinguish themselves for altruism in the community.
  • 3 Sep 2019 12:00 | Deleted user
    The first members of the MIA at the 1965 General Meeting made up of a pretty small gathering of 68 members.  Fast forward to 2019, it boasts 3200 members!
    Source: The Malta Institute of Accountants 1965-2015, Chapter 2
    Order the captivating book exclusively from the Institute on bookings@miamalta.org and take advantage of the member offer including slipcase and book.

  • 1 Aug 2019 10:00 | Deleted user
    The Ministry for Education and Employment embarked on the ‘I Choose’ initiative for another year, targeting all 4th & 5th formers giving students the opportunity to explore further career options as they leave compulsory education.
    The overall aim of this event is to help students to overcome difficulties and doubts related to their future career paths.  As well as seek one-to-one advice from the career guidance practitioners.  Students and parents alike could opt to attend different talks delivered by professionals in various related fields.
    MIA was present as the official voice and guardian of the accountancy and finance profession.  Apart from exhibiting to network and inform students on the alternative study routes, committee members discussed the diverse career opportunities, personal development and job security the profession offers during an interactive and informative panel discussion.
    Jean Paul Debono, Chairman of the Young Group, the SMP Advisory Group and Direct Tax Committee moderated the talk.   The contributors included Zak Cachia who sits on the Young members Group, SMP Advisory Group & Indirect Taxation Committee, Steve Mamo a member of the Young Group, Noel Camilleri, member of the PAIB Advisory Group & AML Committee as well as Daniel Brincat, who sits on the Young Group. 

  • 22 Jul 2019 12:00 | Deleted user
    The Council of the Malta Institute of Accountants appointed Fabio Axisa as its new President for the term July 2019 - June 2020. The election was held during the Institute’s 55th Annual General Meeting on July 11, 2019.
    The new President, Mr Axisa, thanked outgoing President William Spiteri Bailey for leading the accountancy profession through challenging times in the past two terms.  “First of all, congratulations and sincere gratitude to the outgoing President for the significant work carried out. William was instrumental in many areas considering the pressures and challenges faced by the profession.”

    The new President said that he will focus on consolidating the MIA’s role, stature and relevance with a long-term view.  “We will continue building on the work carried out by subsequent MIA Presidents throughout the recent years.  Gone are the days when strategy and direction are modified every two years as soon as a new President is elected.” explained Mr Axisa, who served as Vice President in the last two terms.
    The new President highlighted five core pillars underpinning the MIA’s strategy in the coming years:
    1. Ensuring the MIA is home to all qualified accountants.
    2. Elevating quality within the profession.
    3. Working with all stakeholders to enhance the education and qualification process.
    4. Fostering collegiality and comradeship among accountants.
    5. Striving to make the Institute’s voice heard, loud and clear, on issues which are important for the profession but also on national strategic issues.
     Mr Axisa said that the Institute belongs to all accountants and called for broader representation of those qualified and operating as accountants in the Maltese jurisdiction. “We want to continue conveying this message in a strong manner; the Institute is not a club solely for the largest firms.  But only fully qualified accountants should be considered as and actually call themselves accountants.”
    The MIA has a duty to keep raising the quality of accountancy and the President warned that the profession is constantly “under the spotlight”.   “As an Institute we will continue working with the regulator to push the bar higher, as we need to strive to do the right thing professionally in all circumstances, even if this entails a cost.”
    The Institute will continue to strengthen its efforts in the areas of education and qualification processes. The President acknowledges that the quality and quantity of accountants in the marketplace is a fundamental aspect for the profession. At the same time, the MIA will dedicate more time and effort to reinforcing a sense of collegiality and comradeship among accountants.   “In this area we need to function better as one profession,” commented Fabio Axisa. 
    The profession has a big role to play nationally, and the new President said he is committed to continue investing to give the Institute an influential voice on issues of strategic importance.  “We have taken a number of initiatives in this area in the past few years; but the Institute is expected to pursue in and indeed enhance its input and interaction with the relevant stakeholders.”
    Outgoing President William Spiteri Bailey presented the Council Report for the year 2018-2019. He outlined the main work carried out by the Institute, particularly in the areas of technical and educational support to members as well as collaboration with local and international partners. Spiteri Bailey described how the MIA took concrete steps not only to be closer to its members, but to reach out to a wider and more varied audience too. 
    Among the main activities and events in the last year were the Biennial Conference, the Accountancy Profession Strategic Forum for international stakeholders, a Protocol of Cooperation signed with the MIA’s counterpart in Cyprus, and the presentation of findings of the study in Gender Pay Gap within the accounting profession.
    The Institute welcomed its new Council members, elected on a two-year term: Christian Gravina, Etienne Borg Cardona, Franz R. Wirth, Lucienne Pace Ross, Mark Bugeja, Noel Mizzi and William Spiteri Bailey. These joined Annabel Zammit Pace, Christopher Balzan, David Delicata, Fabio Axisa, Ivan Grixti, Jonathan Dingli, and Shawn Falzon who are serving their term on the Council, ending in mid-2020.
    Following the Annual General Meeting, the Council also appointed David Delicata as Vice President, Noel Mizzi as Secretary, and Franz R. Wirth as Treasurer for the term ending mid-2020.

  • 9 Jul 2019 12:00 | Deleted user
    On the 9th July, a Cooperation Agreement was signed between the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and the Malta Institute of Accountants which will see both organisations co-operate on matters of national economic policy of common interest to the business community and accounting profession.   This was William Spiteri Bailey’s last achievement in his capacity as President of the Institute.
    By virtue of the agreement, which was signed by Malta Chamber President Perit David Xuereb and Malta Institute of Accountants President Mr William Spiteri Bailey, the two organisations agreed to co-operate actively in the interest of the Maltese economy, and the upholding of business ethics and the promotion of best practice amongst members of both organisations.

    The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and The Malta Institute of Accountants have signed a memorandum of understanding, intended to provide a structure for collaboration between the two bodies in the future. 


    Speaking at the signing, President Perit Xuereb said that the Malta Chamber was constantly seeking to strike agreements with reputable professional bodies in the interest of the Maltese economy where pooling of resources provides new synergies such as in the case of teaming up in the accounting profession. This agreement is one such way of securing a direct line of communication with one of the economy’s most important professions.
    Mr William Spiteri Bailey, the President of the Malta Institute of Accountants said that the co-operation agreement would actively see both organisations co-operate on matters of national economic policy of common interest to the business community and accounting profession.
    The two organisations would in turn engage in a meaningful dialogue and seek to support each other’s stands on key common issues.
    The memorandum of understanding provides a platform for cooperation in matters in which either party has expertise. The two organisations also commit to co-operate towards facilitating the dissemination of information, opportunities in education, and life-long-learning for their membership bases. On a reciprocal basis, the organisations promise to collaborate in joint projects that are aimed at supporting the business of members on both sides to grow and internationalise.
    The agreement was also signed by Malta Chamber Deputy President Ms Marisa Xuereb and Malta Institute of Accountants Vice President Mr Fabio Axisa.

  • 4 Jul 2019 12:00 | Deleted user
    The Malta Institute of Accountants raised €8,000 for Beating Hearts Malta at a social event for MIA members in June. The Institute drove a successful donations campaign in the month leading to the social evening and organised raffles and an exhibition during the event itself to collect funds for the non-profit organisation.
    MIA President William Spiteri Bailey presented BHM President Prof. Victor Grech with the generous donation of €8,000. Members raised €5,266 during the fundraising campaign which the Institute then topped up by a further €2,734.

    The start-of-summer event by the Institute of Accountants is an annual occasion for members in the profession to meet in an informal environment. Some 700 accountants were treated to an enjoyable evening hosted by MIA.
    Every year, the Institute of Accountants takes the opportunity to raise members’ awareness about a noble cause and encourage them to contribute towards it – this year BHM was selected.
    Beating Hearts Malta is the association for adults and children born with Congenital Heart Defects, the most common malformation present at birth. The donation by MIA supports a project to co-fund a dedicated cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine at Mater Dei hospital.
    The Malta Institute of Accountants (MIA) is the voice of the accountancy profession in Malta, providing professional guidance, technical support and continuing professional education to over 3,000 accountants.
    MIA is committed to attracting talented individuals to the profession and invests heavily in the process of educating prospective accountants.
    The Institute also helps to promote a proper understanding of the role and the value of the accountancy profession to the Maltese public in general and, in particular, to the local business community.
    The MIA forms part of leading international accounting organisations and it represents Maltese accountants in these prestigious fora.


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