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The accountant - Summer 2020

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  • 2 Sep 2020 10:02 | Anonymous
    At the time of drafting this address, as a country we seem to be heading towards another unexpected page in this coronavirus saga. This is a defining time for everyone as we navigate through this and other challenges - for us as the Institute, as a profession, as an economy, and as a nation. Our behaviour and performance will be judged by reference to what we will manage to achieve throughout this intense period of uncertainty. The pandemic and the Moneyval challenges have been persistent causes for concern for the country and, even more so, for us within the accountancy profession. Furthermore, important developments in the regulatory framework, market conditions and expectations present new challenges that require more resilient and clinical performance by professional accountants.

    In the last few months, the Institute continued to engage in intensive interaction with members, stakeholders, other professions, public bodies and authorities to identify the main difficulties our members are encountering and to contribute with effective solutions to overcome these challenges. We are doing our very best to stay close to our members and to be decisive in our members’ lives. I am sure you want more and I will not rest until all our members feel included and proud to be part of this Institute.
    Our strong voice on Moneyval
    One of the key issues that worries our members is the country’s fate in respect of the Moneyval evaluation. In July as your President I represented the Institute in a high-level delegation which met Prime Minister Robert Abela to discuss the major issues surrounding the Moneyval evaluation and discuss the impact on the Financial Services Sector in Malta. This specially-designated forum also includes the Financial Services Business Section of the Malta Chamber, the Malta Bankers’ Association (MBA), the Chamber of Advocates, the Institute of Financial Services Practitioners (IFSP) and the Malta Institute of Taxation (MIT). Together, we presented a series of proposals to Government suggesting concrete ways on how to address the Moneyval matter and how to navigate through the evaluation in the coming months to safeguard the country and our market. Your Institute is considered relevant and influential - I was pleased that our feedback shaped the proposals and was attributed a lot of weight. The importance of having 3,700 accountants’ voices extremely concerned about this situation is evident.
    The ‘Recommendations for the Moneyval Assessment’ document insists on continued enhancement of Malta’s regulatory and legal infrastructure in respect of Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) as well as Rule of Law, together with more concrete steps in the areas of investigations, prosecutions and confiscations. Our message to the Prime Minister was very clear and articulated. A fair degree of optimism in respect of going through the evaluation successfully was shared with us, which gives us a degree of confidence. However, as a country we have to raise the bar and ensure the appropriate actions and decisions are taken.
    Together with the other partners, the MIA is also pushing for more transparency and effective communication to all stakeholders in respect of developments in this area, focusing specifically on Government’s actions on both technical and political fronts to ensure the damage to the country’s reputation is repaired. The recommendations go further, and we are suggesting the appointment of a technical, national frontperson on Moneyval related matters, who communicates the stance and progress on all Moneyval initiatives. Clearly, the strategy must be that we are on a long-term voyage – beyond the coming few months – to cleanse our name and re-establish the aura around Malta as a financial services jurisdiction and a reputable country. This will take time and will only work if all elements within the chain work relentlessly and row in the same direction.
    As President of the MIA I have been interviewed at length by the media about the seriousness and the impacts of Moneyval on our country. I believe I was very clear on the MIA’s stance and have taken a strong position on all topics. The members want a vociferous Institute and we will be firm, demanding and vociferous. I will not allow that our profession is blamed for the outcome of the Moneyval assessment – I understand that a large section of the membership base was feeling that blame was being shifted on to our profession and that our members were extremely concerned about this.
    I will continue to refute this position in a categoric manner as our profession is not the principal polluter and hence should be respected accordingly. However as an Institute we will not tolerate that our members misbehave in this area and we will take action on any member that does not uphold our standards and values. We need to raise the bar and elevate quality – consistently and steadily
    – we expect this from our members. But rest assured that the Institute will always shield in an obsessive manner its members who do their utmost in terms of AML/CFT and will not allow that any party portrays our profession as a rogue one because of a few bad apples that we will ensure do not form part of our membership base.
    The Moneyval outcome will not just affect the profession or the Financial Services Sector, but the country’s economy in its entirety. I believe we have been successful in delivering this message outside our own ecosystem and we have contributed heavily to reinforcing the message’s place on the national agenda. The Institute has emerged as a valued and respected member of the professional circuit and this national discussion is a challenge for the Institute to cement our profession as a fundamental contributor to the economy and marketplace.
    I am also extremely proud that we are nearing the completion of the MIA’s project to propose amendments to the legislation regulating our profession – to define the services that can only be carried out by professional accountants and hence ensure that only professional accountants call themselves as such. Through this project we will be able to earmark those services which are relevant activities for AML/CFT purposes and ultimately propose guidelines for the profession in the area of AML/CFT addressing the earmarked relevant activities. These projects are landmark and defining activities. We are working extremely well with the Accountancy Board and the FIAU in this respect. We will reach out to our membership base with further training and education activities in relation to these matters such that the Institute heavily invests in the quality and rigour of our professional activities.
    Coronavirus developments
    Besides Moneyval, our country is battling another serious challenge with the Covid-19 outbreak – a menace both to people’s health and to our economy. The fallout from the first bout of the pandemic is still being felt among our members, even though we seem to be heading straight into a second wave at the time of writing.
    This situation affects everyone, and we believe that the Institute has a responsibility to make its voice heard on the matter. Last month, as active cases continued to increase, the MIA endorsed a strong statement by the Malta Federation of Professional Associations which called for the restriction of mass events. We joined other professional organisations to formally raise concern about the spike in Covid-19 infections as a result of gatherings and events that overlook safety protocols imposed by the government.
    It is part of our ethos as a profession to advocate for good sense and civic responsibility and, while the official joint statement supports a measured re-opening strategy, it calls on all sectors of society – from commercial entities to religious organisations – to exercise restraint and cooperate with health authorities to protect us from another outbreak.
    We continue to be disappointed that no specific support or aid measures targeted to professionals have been devised and we continue to raise this matter quite vociferously. We will continue monitoring the situation and will remain active in submitting further proposals if need be. We do not give up. Whatever your coronavirus concerns are as members, please do remember and keep front of mind that the Institute is there ready to support you and provide relief as much as possible. You are not alone throughout this corona saga.
    We will continue to provide our contributions to Government and other stakeholders. In this respect, we have supported the Department of Industrial and Employment Relations with Covid-19 top-up exemption procedures, involving reports to be drawn up by professional accountants in certain circumstances, in the context of wage supplement declaration submissions. The Institute is proud to share its expertise and be of service to authorities during these strange times.
    Our interaction with institutions and regulatory authorities
    The Institute forges ahead with its strategy to pursue closer relationships with other associated institutions and regulators.
    A key activity was organised jointly with the IFSP and the MIT in late May, wherein the Consolidated Group (Income Tax) Rules issued by the Commissioner for Revenue (CfR) were discussed. The special online session was attended by more than 370 professionals and the CfR representatives went through the application of a Fiscal Unit. The change represents an important step towards more effective compliance. The CfR has published initial guidelines for practitioners, but we are informed that work on more detailed guidelines on technical issues is underway. Besides securing the latest information for our members, the webinar was successful in bringing together professionals involved in different parts of the process.
    Last month we held a crucial information session with the Malta Business Registry (MBR) in response to doubts and concerns about recent changes to the registry. The Institute had the pleasure of welcoming top officials from the MBR, whom we thank for their eagerness to support our activities. We are interacting well with the MBR and we hope to continue recommending enhancements to support our members.
    Among other themes, the MBR officials explained the details of the legal requirements in respect of the Beneficial Owner (BO) disclosures and the revised requirements of the online submission document. Participants in the webinar also had the opportunity to learn about upcoming projects by MBR.This was one of the two occasions in July for members to ask questions to the MBR directly. Following the enactment of Legal Notice 247 of 2020, in mid-June, the Institute organised a briefing session on the latest changes to the Companies Act (Register of Beneficial Owners) Regulations. Participants raised over 100 queries in an engaging session led by MBR.
    Professional accountants are instrumental to the success of revised laws, rules, and processes. Our questions and concerns during information sessions are as important to regulators as their guidance is to us. Our professional pragmatism and experience help authorities design more effective procedures.
    The value of the profession’s insight was evident in the feedback that the Institute has once again collated from different segments of the membership base on the proposed regulatory framework for Company Service Providers (CSP) drafted by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA).
    The supervision of Company Service Providers is a delicate matter, particularly in the current circumstances. Whilst we do not agree with all the published proposals, and we made this amply clear, we are ready to support and work together with MFSA to sustain a robust CSP framework. A delegation from the Institute presented our second round of feedback to the MFSA and we expressed our concerns in a detailed manner. I am pleased that some of our concerns and suggestions were addressed. Clearly on other matters we will endeavour to work with MFSA to find effective manners of cleansing the sector for the sake of the jurisdiction’s reputation and long-term sustainability.
    We have the same long-term objectives as the MFSA and whilst we do not agree on certain short-term and tactical solutions, we can work together with the regulator in a constructive manner to elevate quality in this sector. At the same time, we will demonstrate the prevailing quality of our profession through this process.
    Our continued focus on members’ concerns
    In these last weeks, the MIA was actively reaching out to stakeholders and authorities. At the same time, this was a period of upheaval for many of our members, too. We held a series of webinars to take stock of the situation and understand better where the Institute can intervene and assist professional accountants.
    Amongst other initiatives, I attended a constructive meeting with representatives of the Professional Accountants in Business (PAIB) Advisory Focus Group in which we discussed the major concerns of professionals in this segment, especially in the face of pressures from coronavirus and the Moneyval assessment. The session was held prior to the meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister I referred to, and this helped the Institute in forming and cementing our views to be put forward officially. In the PAIB Group meeting we also discussed other matters such as the perceived independence of our regulator, the attractiveness of our profession to new talent, and the standards that must be upheld to preserve the integrity of the profession. It is clear that members expect the Institute to act as a voice of reason and change on national matters. And you have my word we will leave no stone unturned to achieve this.
    In a separate meeting with the Small and Medium Practitioners (SMP) Advisory Committee, we discussed the MIA’s role in raising important issues on the country’s agenda. In that session, I assured the Committee that we are offering authorities and stakeholders, technical advice and support on the current important themes. Above all we continue to interact with regulators and entities to improve the lives of our members on day to day professional matters. We are working on different initiatives that emanated from this forum, necessitating interaction with MBR, CfR, FIAU, MFSA and MBA. It is our duty to see to the practical needs of our members and this is exactly why our internal committees and fora are invaluable. We discussed the regulatory and compliance regime SMPs experience. The meeting also focused on other sensitive matters including obstacles that practitioners face in opening banking accounts, the update to the CSP regulatory process, enforcement of professional clearance, and the Institute’s relationship with regulators and other professional bodies.
    It is always refreshing to meet seasoned members and professional accountants in these fora who are so enthusiastic about our profession today, as much as they were when they started off their professional lives.
    Decisive moments
    I have to admit that being the President of the Institute and working relentlessly for 3,700 members is sometimes a very difficult job even for an individual like myself with an incredible level of drive and ambition. However the encouraging words from you members, the gratitude you express in respect of our efforts, the sense of pride you demonstrate when we take positions, the desire to participate and contribute, your eagerness to share feedback and – why not – criticism when due, continue to fuel my relentless approach to giving our membership base the best.
    Many of you have been very kind to me and have supported me in a tremendous way. You are the best profession around and I am proud to be leading your Institute. Help me and support me further in elevating quality and the stature of our profession. These are defining moments for our accountancy profession.
  • 1 Sep 2020 14:44 | Anonymous
    The Accountant – Is Good Governance on our Agenda?  –  Summer 2020 (MIA Publication)

    In this issue, the MIA asked two Maltese Members of the European Parliament for their perspectives on Good Governance and whether this is on their agenda.

    Good Governance Towards Stability in Business and a Better Quality of Life - Miriam Dalli, Member of the European Parliament
    For all members of the European Union to harness a stable business environment and to safeguard European citizens’ quality of life, good governance is essential. Ensuring accountability and transparency are key, together with providing citizens with an effective, efficient and inclusive system.
    Good governance is a matter of both internal and external relations. EU support for governance reforms has gained ground in the EU’s external relations, particularly in the EU’s development policy. This is not to say that it has not met its challenges – on the contrary, it has come under considerable pressure to ensure that measures implemented, and funds allocated, actually reach the ultimate target of improving the well-being of citizens.
    The same goes for the EU’s own Member States. Good governance is a matter of improving democracy and ensuring that the expectations of citizens are met. It is a cross-sector approach that has to apply to all – from the judicial, to the financial, to the environmental and social aspects.
    By way of example, recommendations for member states were adjusted to address new priorities that came to be with the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic. Country specific recommendations now focus on two aspects. First, the immediate fiscal, economic and social responses to the crisis, and second, the medium-term reform and investment priorities to put economies back on track. Such reforms have to be geared for sustainable and inclusive growth, while integrating the green transition and the digital transformation. Their implementation will be monitored to ensure that countries embrace good governance and transparency. Failure to do so will result in the Commission asking member states to improve their system.
    Another example are the transparency rules that the financial industry must abide by. The S&D Group took the lead on this file and was successful on several key issues, including a more transparent approach on remuneration policies. Under the new rules, banks, insurance companies and pension funds will for the first time have to make visible how they include environmental, social and governance risks in their decision-making process.
    Good governance is an evolving process that helps a democracy develop. As we look at different countries, we see that there is no fool proof system. Over the past seven years, the Maltese government embarked on reforms designed to address transparency and accountability, such as the removal of prescription on acts of political corruption and the press law revamp that abolished criminal libel, among others. The government is currently working on proposals that conform with the 2018 Opinion of the Venice Commission. The proposals focus on a system of transparency and intend to eliminate political influence of politicians from the appointment of judges. Furthermore, the role of the Judicial Appointments Committee in the appointment of judges should be supreme. Another reform is related to the appointment of the Police Commissioner, where the candidate should be selected following a public call, in line with the recommendation of the Venice Commission.
    I support the initiative to regulate lobbying in Malta, that is currently being spearheaded by the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life. The introduction of a legal framework to regulate lobbying is of extreme importance since lobbying forms part of the decision-making process and, as such, transparency needs to be ensured. A Register of Lobbyists and a Transparency Register would allow the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life to appropriately monitor and regulate lobbying.
    Another initiative I would like to see introduced relates to measures that can actually address the revolving door practices. Politicians should not serve companies they have dealt with closely while in office. The most infamous example is that of the former European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso who, less than two years after stepping down, was appointed as chairman of investment bank Goldman Sachs.
    Further reforms are to be carried out and it is positive to note that the Maltese government has shown determination to implement them, including reforms that are being led by the President of Malta related to the Constitutional Convention. More needs to be done at all levels, particularly since governance, transparency, and accountability are spread across various levels, starting from the European Union level, moving on to individual member states, and descending to regions and local councils.
    We have recently seen the publication of the Venice Commission’s proposal on reforms being proposed and implemented by the government. Action is the way forward and I look forward to more initiatives across all levels, with the ultimate goal of enabling citizens being governed by robust systems in place.

    Miriam Dalli, member of the European Parliament
    Good Governance for Better Efficiency – David Casa, Member of the European Parliament
    Between 2014 and 2020, the EU will have invested €325 billion in projects across Member States. On the ground, infrastructure projects that benefitted have signs affixed with the ubiquitous European flag. Each of these projects are bound by rules to ensure standards, avoid corruption and abide by timeframes for efficient use of the European taxpayers’ coffers.
    The EU’s broader concern with that efficiency is shining a new light on good governance as a requisite for democracy. In its seventh report on Europe’s cohesion policy, the Commission has noted that government effectiveness is broadly showing a downward trend across the EU.
    The attention that has been afforded to governance by the EU stems from the Commission’s periodic diagnosis of bloc. Poor government is considered the root of sluggish development, innovation and entrepreneurship, and jams spokes in the wheels of healthy democracy by discouraging public participation and weakening inclusiveness.
    Good governance in Malta
    Malta is an interesting case study compared to our European counterparts. The Maltese people have had quite a high degree of trust in its institutions, which is generally a good sign. In 2015, Maltese trust in government effectiveness was on par with the UK and Ireland, stopping short of governance superstar Finland and overtaking Germany.
    Trust in the institutions afford a happier mandate and enable more effective government – on paper. Curiously, when it came to evaluating Malta’s competitiveness and actual government efficiency, Malta was more closely comparable to Poland and Slovakia. A takeaway from these data seems to be that Malta has been more comfortable with its level of governance than we should have been.
    Transparency is certainly an essential pillar of proper government. However, as the Maltese expression goes, fuq tlieta toqgħod il-borma: accountability and the rule of law are absolutely vital to ensuring good governance. Bolstering our financial watchdogs and white-collar crime units is an essential step to increasing all three pillars. These calls aren’t just being made from the political arena, but private industry has constantly been requesting these.
    The challenges ahead
    Experts and professionals who have spoken out have been let down by the lacklustre implementation of good governance, as well as a culture that still seems to be rooted in electoral patronage. The Commission’s reports are unequivocal on the point that this does nothing to help attract investment in the private sector.
    Since 2015, an elevated awareness of corruption and rule of law issues, culminating in the 2019 political crisis, has altered things considerably. Increased scrutiny by international organisations, namely the Venice Commission, GRECO, and Moneyval, all bodies of the Council of Europe, have highlighted flaws in the Malta’s sphere of governance. As the old mantra goes, recognising the existence of a problem is the first step toward tackling it.
    Domestically, Robert Abela’s administration is ostensibly taking steps to remedy the governance deficit that has imperilled vital sectors of the economy. The new portfolio for governance attached to the Justice Ministry aims to do that. But the role has been criticised as insufficient. Notably, it has been argued that many of the same officials remain in office to ensure good governance, when they operated happily under the inadequate protocols of the previous regime.
    Studies cited by the Commission show that Malta will enjoy the most relative gain if the public sector becomes more meritocratic, when jobs and promotions are awarded on merit, not connections. Unfortunately, the civil service is still treated as a political toy. The press has all but given up reporting on the countless promotions given without a call of applications, jobs being created with specific individuals in mind, and vindictive transfers to workers of another political colour. None of this bodes well for good governance in the public sector and Malta has a long way to go before the public sector can lead in good governance.
    The EU’s relationship with its Member States is not very simple, and public opinion is rife with misconceptions on what the EU can and can’t do. In the past few years, there have been increased calls for the EU to intervene in cases of maladministration and corruption. There is only so much the EU can do, and it certainly cannot take over what remains the responsibility, moral and legal, of its constituent nations.

    David Casa, member of the European Parliament
  • 1 Sep 2020 14:33 | Anonymous
    The Accountant – Is Good Governance on our Agenda?  –  Summer 2020 (MIA Publication)
    Grey is a colour often associated with accountants, but not often connected with Malta, until now. Since the results of the Moneyval inspection of Malta were published in July 2019, the prospect of ‘grey-listing’ has been hanging over Malta. In this article, Dominic Fisher of ARQ Group will examine what grey-listing could mean for Malta and its accountancy profession.
    About Moneyval and the Malta Report
    Moneyval is a monitoring body which evaluates European countries regarding measures taken to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism. A key feature of the current round of inspections is the focus on effectiveness. Simply having a sound legal framework is not enough.
    The Moneyval report on Malta, which was published in July 2019, was generally negative. In fact, Malta was rated as ‘low’ or ‘moderate’ in nine of eleven areas under review with supervision, prosecution and confiscation being areas of particular weaknesses. These findings meant that fundamental or major improvements were required across the board.
    In terms of the accountancy profession, Moneyval also concluded that Maltese accountants were not confident in their understanding of money laundering and were unable to articulate clearly how it could occur in their sector. The FIAU’s latest annual report shows that suspicious transaction reports by external accountants and auditors has been rising, albeit from a very low base.
    The corporate service provider (CSP) sector, which also employs many accountants, also came under criticism. Given that CSPs are involved with most Maltese company incorporations, they are critical gatekeepers to the Maltese financial system. It’s no coincidence that in October 2019 the MFSA opened a consultation to ‘raise the bar’ for this sector.
    Malta has until October of this year to show progress or find itself ‘grey-listed’. Damage has already been done to Malta’s reputation by this prospect. For example, the latest Basel AML Governance Index had Malta falling from 13th to 89th in the world. In this Index we are sandwiched between Serbia and Russia in the rankings and now lag behind every other EU state.
    Institutions which serve international clients or depend on overseas counterparties have also been negatively affected. In many sectors, obtaining or maintaining banking facilities in Malta is close to mission impossible. This isn’t a case of banks being nasty, but rather that they are careful, to the point of paranoia, of meeting stakeholder expectations. In practice, pleasing regulators, owners and correspondent banks currently involves prioritising compliance over short term commercial gain and avoiding certain types of business altogether.
    If Malta is grey-listed, this would be a first for a EU country. Joining a list that contains Albania, Cambodia, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Syria and Yemen is self-evidently bad and will make Malta less attractive as a jurisdiction. With everything else that is going on in the world, it might be tricky to isolate the grey-listing effect, but we can predict that the quantity and quality of businesses seeking to locate in Malta will fall.
    Remedial Action
    Most of the gaps noted by Moneyval were known and long-standing and a National Co-ordinating Committee was established prior to the publication of the Moneyval report to ensure that necessary actions would be addressed. Of course, some of the weaknesses are easier to fix than others. A substantial injection of resources into the supervisory authorities has led to a tripling of inspections year on year in 2020. The sanctions which are currently being applied by the authorities are far more punitive than in the past. Nevertheless it remains highly questionable whether the criminal justice system can achieve and/or demonstrate the progress which is required and legislation to support non-conviction based asset forfeiture has yet to be passed.
    Relevance to Accountants
    Many accountants are aware of anti-money laundering requirements and typologies, but here’s my advice for any accountants in the current environment.
    AML is an integral part of the job
    – You like working with numbers? Your eyes glaze over when it comes to legal or compliance matters? Bad luck. Accountants on the front lines must be aware of money laundering risks and typologies and be ready to flag suspicious activity.
    Systemise to comply
    - Already strained by the regulatory burden? Don’t expect things to improve. For many organisations manual compliance processes are unfit for purpose. Explore automated processes that take the pain out of compliance.
    Take AML appointments seriously
    – Accountants are often asked to take on the MLRO position themselves or involved in the process to appoint MLROs. It is crucial to ensure that anyone taking on this post has the experience, seniority and bandwidth to carry out this role effectively. This is no time for enthusiastic amateurs.
    Malta’s standing as an international financial centre is at stake. If we act accordingly, between the grey clouds, there is blue sky.

    Dominic Fisher is a chartered accountant and is an expert in the field of risk and compliance at ARQ Group.

  • 1 Sep 2020 14:26 | Anonymous
    The Accountant – Is Good Governance on our Agenda?  –  Summer 2020 (MIA Publication)
    What is the meaning of Good Governance for a Small-Medium Practitioner (SMP)?
    The common perception is that Good Governance is a new minted term, however the concept is one which is as old as human civilization; for ‘ Governance’ means "the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented or not implemented."
    Although the term is a resounding one with connotations of big business, macro institutions, national or local governance, and international governance; this is a far cry from its true substance.
    Governance is the process of decision making and hence the process by which decisions are implemented. Consequently one needs to focus on the actors of the decision making and the structures (whether formal or informal) in which those decision makers operate.
    The characteristics of good governance are not consequential of size and hence retain their form whether the structure is a single player structure, an SMP or a large organisation.

    What are the characteristics of Good Governance?

    Primarily one may list down the major characteristics at the heart of good governance as:
    • Participatory
    • Consensus oriented
    • Accountable
    • Transparent
    • Responsive
    • Effective & efficient
    • Equitable and inclusive
    • Follows the rule of law
    Obviously not all characteristics will be predominant to the same degree, much depends on the specific circumstance under consideration. However, the combination of all these characteristics are at the root of good governance.
    From an SMP perspective the above may seem a tall order and implementing good governance practices might be far down the priority list. But investing in good governance is critical to long-term success.

    Is there room for less good governance in a small practice, rather than a bigger firm?

    All practices, small or large have goals which need to be achieved. Attaining those goals is fundamentally influenced by the level of governance implemented. There is no such concept as less good governance, but varying levels of good governance apply, dictated by the size of the organisation.
    In large firms there is an agent-principal issue: managers are agents for the principals or owners. Hence good governance involves implementing a framework of systems and controls to ensure that managers and staff not only act in the best interests of their principals but also of all their stakeholders.
    In general, in SMP’s the agent-principal relationship is less significant, and governance is mainly concerned with business efficiency and performance and less of a monitoring nature. Hence the framework applied must be fit for purpose, meaning that it is appropriate for the size and maturity of the business.
    In this respect The International Finance Corporation (IFC) issued a Family Business Governance Handbook which is designed for family owned businesses; many of which falling into the category of Small-Medium Entities (SMEs). IFC have also developed a Governance Progression Matrix, which sets minimum requirements for four levels of corporate governance, from basic to best practices which requirements cover several categories of corporate governance.

    What are the challenges faced when complying with good governance?

    Good governance undoubtedly brings in an array of challenges be it a micro or a macro entity, obviously with varying degrees. For a sole practitioner, or for that matter an SME, the number one priority is attracting new business (if not retaining existing ones) and struggling to survive in a competitive business environment. Hence, understandably, governance might not be at the top of the list. However, as business grows, expands and fiduciary duties increase, the governance issue starts climbing up the ladder of importance.
    Notwithstanding on which step of the ladder one is, the main challenge is always the availability of resources. Balancing the act between having to immerse oneself in a wide variety of operational issues and strategic issues such as good governance is no small feat and comes at a cost. The issue is ‘will good governance pay off in the future’?

    What are the intrinsic benefits when having good governance? Do SMP’s foresee that good governance will become more important in the future?

    Notwithstanding the pressures good governance exerts on the limited resources available, no one would argue that corporate governance is unimportant to an organisation. Setting up a framework which assists all stakeholders to monitor the actions and performance of a business/entity protects both the future of the entity and the stakeholder’s interests. Surprisingly, some of the most significant intrinsic benefits from good governance are to be had by small and medium sized entities. These may be summarised as:
    • Establishing clear reporting lines
    • Clarity in decision making and control of risk
    • Internal controls related to key risks
    • Promotes understanding of roles and responsibilities
    The above list is not exhaustive but provides a porthole view on the benefits which accrue because of good governance and in the long run, the benefits far outweigh the costs incurred. SMP’s in general acknowledge that longevity for an entity is dependent on its ability to ingrain in its DNA the culture of good governance.

    Franco Privitelli is a certified public accountant and auditor. He is Director and Partner in MGI Malta, mainly responsible for the Audit and Assurance department as well as a member on the MIA SMP Advisory Group.
  • 1 Sep 2020 14:19 | Anonymous
    The Accountant – Is Good Governance on our Agenda?  –  Summer 2020 (MIA Publication)
    If an investment portfolio is akin to an art collection, then investors are the art collectors who are constantly on the lookout for their next centrepiece and in this day and age, companies with robust and effective corporate governance are considered the masterpieces.
    A new era in asset management is sweeping through the global capital markets. This new concept in investment is characterised by ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investing criteria which are setting new standards for companies who want to attract investment. The third pillar ‘Governance’, underscores the importance of a robust governance framework which, is not only valued by investors but also by other stakeholders, employees and customers alike and plays a significant role on the company’s reputation.
    Capital markets exert considerable influence on the corporate governance practices of listed companies or potential future market participants that can be both direct and indirect. Direct measures that are imposed on listed companies include: tighter listing requirements, controlling insider trading, imposing disclosure and accounting rules and ensuring investor protection. The major indirect way that markets exert influence on listed companies is through the pricing mechanisms. Such mechanisms allow investors to express their opinion on the issuer’s established corporate governance practices and performance by buying or selling the respective security.
    An effective corporate governance environment is built on a national-level and a firm-level approach. The combination of both approaches is conducive to sustainable economic growth, transparency and market integrity. National-level corporate governance is made up of a cohesive legal, regulatory and institutional framework which, allows market participants to establish private contractual relations. The primary elements of this framework include legislation, regulation, self-regulatory arrangements and voluntary commitments. These elements are implemented together with governance codes on a ‘comply and explain’ principle to allow flexibility for the multitude of different types of participants. Stock exchanges have a central role in a country’s corporate governance framework because they are acting as the ‘gatekeepers’ to the capital markets. This highlights the importance of the quality of a stock exchange’s rules and regulations that govern listing criteria and trading practices.
    At the time of writing, Malta is being evaluated by MoneyVal, the permanent monitoring body of the Council of Europe tasked with assessing compliance with the principal international standards to counter money laundering and financing of terrorism, the effectiveness of their implementation and with making recommendations to national authorities. This is an evaluation of Malta’s governance framework on the international stage which, is crucial to the level of trust that countries, companies and investors can put in Malta and hence has a direct impact on its commercial and investment prospects.
    Firm-level corporate governance is determined by multiple components including ownership structure, shareholder rights, board and management diversity, disclosures and audits and responsibility towards all the stakeholders. These different components must be organised and aligned towards the same goal which, is not always the case. The governance framework needs to outline the performance criteria of each of the components in order to ensure that they all remain aligned towards the common interest of all stakeholders. The role of the independent non-executive directors who, can exercise impartial judgement whilst providing the necessary transparency for the investor is an underpinning factor of the whole corporate governance framework.
    The importance of corporate governance is highlighted when a firm is trying to appeal to the broad spectrum of investors, from sophisticated institutional investors to retail investors. This is particularly relevant to the Maltese capital markets which, has the potential of attracting more institutional investment. An effective approach in debt financing which, is the most prevalent financing route for Maltese capital markets participants, is by voluntarily proposing strong and actionable covenants linked to corporate governance metrics.
    The turbulence experienced in capital markets over the years has pushed investor expectations to new highs. Firms that want to be held in high regard, have had to implement robust governance frameworks not just to satisfy the diverse regulatory bodies but also to attract investment at a more competitive weighted average cost of capital (WACC).

    "According to research, from an economic perspective, the more a firm demonstrates a track record of voluntary activism the greater the reduction in agency costs and heightened investors’ optimism in the firm’s future cash-flow and growth prospects."

    In a nutshell, firm-level corporate governance quality can enhance both the firm’s ability to gain access to finance and its financial performance which, eventually lead to capital market development.
    Looking forward, with the continuing emergence of ESG investing on the asset management arena and the new evaluation metrics that it has brought to bear on companies, the importance of good and effective governance frameworks will continue to grow at a rapid pace as the investor community becomes more sensitive to how companies govern themselves and the regulatory frameworks they operate in.

    Mark Azzopardi is the director of Asset Management and co-founder of Jesmond Mizzi Financial Advisors Ltd. He has 20 years of financial industry experience.
  • 1 Sep 2020 14:11 | Anonymous
    The Accountant – Is Good Governance on our Agenda?  –  Summer 2020 (MIA Publication)
    This article will indicate the key initiatives being taken at national level and by the European Union (EU) to enable the shift which the financial sector needs to make to start taking environment, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors into consideration in the investment decisions. Specific observations will be made on how accountants can contribute to this transformational change towards a sustainable economy.
    The EU long-term strategy on climate change, adopted by Member States’ (MS) governments earlier in March, reaffirms the full commitment of the EU and its MSs to the Paris Agreement and its long-term goals.
    Further to this, the European Commission (COM) published a proposal for a regulation, the Climate Law, to enshrine in a legislation the EU’s political commitment to be climate neutral by 2050. The Climate Law, which is now subject to further consideration under the ordinary legislative procedure by the EU institutions, is one of the key actions planned in the European Green Deal (EGD) presented by the COM in December 2019.
    European companies can play a significant role in a just transition towards a sustainable economy; however, voluntary action has not brought about the necessary change.
    This is limited by the pre-dominant short-term focus of companies. Moreover, possible company sustainability strategies are rarely aligned with science-based targets. Research indicates there seems to be stakeholder support for a policy change ensuring legal certainty and a level playing field with a preference for a mandatory due diligence considering the specificities of different sectors and the size of companies.
    In most countries, while company law allows businesses to integrate environmental and other sustainability concerns; shareholder primacy is considered by research as the key barrier for sustainability as it is likely to take precedence over long-term sustainability objectives.
    To this effect, one area of the EGD Roadmap refers to the mainstreaming of sustainability in all policies, with specific attention to finance-related policies. Already in 2018, the COM released an Action Plan for Financing Sustainable Growth and building on this, the COM launched a public consultation on the renewed sustainable finance strategy. Among other objectives, the Strategy aims to provide a roadmap with new actions to increase private investment in sustainable projects and to manage and integrate climate and environmental risks into our financial system.
    The clear focus of today’s boards should be on the sustainable value creation to all relevant stakeholders, including society as a whole. Sustainable corporate governance can thus help to embed sustainability into a company’s strategy, decision making and reporting processes.
    In the past decades, better transparency has been one of the biggest achievements in corporate reporting. In transitioning towards a sustainable economy, it is important to understand where we are and where we want to go. In this context, accountants’ contribution in the form of corporate reporting is paramount in helping companies connect, and eventually integrate non-financial and financial information. Corporate reporting of non-financial information, including sustainability information, plays an important role in mitigating the short-termism that until recently dominated financial analysis and valuation. To this effect, there is also an ongoing debate around whether existing financial accounting standards might prove challenging for sustainable and long-term investments.
    The COM speaks of the importance that companies and financial institutions improve their disclosure of non-financial information. Users of this information, mainly investors and civil society organisations, are interested about the companies’ social and environmental performance and impacts. To strengthen the foundations for sustainable investment and also in line with global trends, the COM has committed to review the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) for a consideration of a new regulatory approach to non-financial reporting.
    The Malta Institute of Accountants, under the Chairmanship of Dr Ivan Grixti from the University of Malta, created a working group of selected representatives from retail banks together with the “Big Four” and mid-tier accounting firms to discuss the COM NFRD and the COM Renewed Sustainable Finance Strategy consultation documents. The position emanating from this working group as approved by the Accountancy Board, together with the regulator’s feedback were taken into consideration by Government officials in the final submission to the EUSurvey Portal.
    Recognising that sustainability poses both a direct and indirect risk to the financial sector, the Ministry for Finance and Financial Services (MFIN), the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) and the Central Bank of Malta (CBM) has been integrating sustainable finance into their work streams. The MFSA aims to integrate sustainability into its ongoing supervision and reporting guidelines and has thus established an internal working group for the overall coordination on the ongoing debate and the requirements that ensue requiring policy input and implementation on sustainable finance.
    The MFSA has recently joined the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) which is composed of global members from Central Banks and Supervisory Authorities cooperating and sharing knowledge to address climate change and scale up sustainable finance. The CBM has been a member of the NGFS since July 2019 and is an active member in two work streams that deal with portfolio management and in the design of climate-related scenarios. The MFIN participated in a number of European Council meetings which discussed COM legislative proposals for a sustainable finance taxonomy of sustainable activities, for performance measurement benchmarks, and for disclosure of information specific to the financial sector. To inform these discussions, the Department has engaged with multiple stakeholders through specific inter-Government working groups but also through an external consultation organised in collaboration with MEUSAC. Future work will include discussions leading towards the agreement on the new regulatory technical standards and delegated acts emanating from the newly adopted regulations.
    The accountants’ part in this transition requires the profession to shape its agenda to support the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. One way the profession can contribute to this transition is by participating in the relevant public consultations through the EUSurvey Portal and the dedicated national channels.
    Vital to Europe’s financial system stability is transparency, which is also essential for moving from short-termism to a sustainable point of view. Accounting is a natural starting point and thus, the contribution of the accountancy profession has a distinct importance in making our economies sustainable.   

    Maria is an economist working for the Economic Policy Department in the Ministry for Finance. She is involved in the policy coordination of sustainable finance dossiers within the Ministry. She is also a member of the European Commission’s Member States’ Expert Group on Sustainable Finance.

  • 1 Sep 2020 14:05 | Anonymous
    The Accountant – Is Good Governance on our Agenda?  –  Summer 2020 (MIA Publication)
    In today’s world, it is crucial that companies know with whom they are dealing, not just knowing the name of the company or who the officers are, but the natural person owners of the company – the beneficial owners. Transparency is an essential tool for good governance and this requires knowledge of beneficial ownership in corporate structures.
    Transparency is a critical component of corporate governance because it ensures that all of a company’s actions can be checked at any given time by third parties. One of the main roles of the Registrar of Companies (Registrar) in Malta is to make information public on all Maltese registered companies and partnerships, including the register on the beneficial owners of companies. The register of beneficial owners is easily accessible by all competent authorities, subject persons and the general public. The portal is https://registry.mbr.mt/ROC/
    An ultimate beneficial owner is any natural person who ultimately owns or controls that body corporate or body of persons through direct or indirect ownership of 25% plus 1 or more of the shares, or more than 25% of the voting rights or an ownership interest of more than 25% in that body corporate or body of persons or through control via other means. Senior managing officials can also be treated as beneficial owners where the above criteria cannot be determined.
    Although the definition of what constitutes a beneficial owner seems to be a straight forward one; collecting, updating, verifying and monitoring all of the information for every beneficial owner of every company is a large-scale effort, for both the practitioners and the authorities. This is because identifying the beneficial owner of a company is, sometimes, not like looking for a needle in a haystack but it is more like looking for a needle in a pile of other needles. Criminals have long used complex corporate structures to hide their real identities, the true purpose behind a company and this, with the aim to conceal where their funds have come from or what they are being used for.
    As per Companies Act, companies are legally obliged to disclose their beneficial owner/s to the Registrar. Companies that fail to do so are just asking for trouble as the Registrar applies sanctions for companies that fail to disclose the beneficial ownership information to him. Apart from imposing administrative penalties on existing companies that failed to file the beneficial ownership information, the Registrar refuses any other documents submitted to him for registration. The Registrar also refuses to register a new Memorandum and Articles of a proposed company, if the beneficial owners are not disclosed and can also struck off existing companies that failed to make the necessary beneficial ownership disclosure with the Registrar. In addition to that, throughout this year, the Registrar has also struck off the name of approximately 10,000 companies off the register that for the past years failed to comply with their statutory obligations.
    It is worth mentioning that as a general practice in the observance of good corporate governance and transparency in a corporate structure, the need for stricter disclosure requirements is inevitable. The Registrar is obliged to keep accurate, current and up-to-date information on the beneficial owners of companies. To this end, the Malta Business Registry (MBR), whose Chief Executive Officer is also legally appointed as the Registrar, also has in place a Compliance Unit within its structure which is in charge of carrying out physical onsite inspections on companies in order to verify that the information of beneficial owners submitted to the Registrar is the same as per the record on beneficial owners held by the company itself and as per internal transactions of the company. In addition to the human supervision, the MBR has also invested in intelligent technologies that have access to data, held by national and foreign authorities for cross-checking and conducting advanced analyses. The MBR will continue enhancing this by the development of algorithms to be able to perform ongoing monitoring.
    Furthermore to the above verification methods, since in Malta we adopt a multi-pronged approach by using several sources of information to make the beneficial ownership of legal persons sufficiently transparent and accurate, all competent persons and subject persons are legally obliged to report any discrepancies they find between the beneficial information available to them and the beneficial ownership information held in the register of beneficial owners kept by the Registrar. In this manner the Registrar can ensure that the information held by him is accurate and up-to-date.

    "When a discrepancy is reported, the Registrar seeks clarifications from the companies in question, and if necessary, report suspicious activities to competent authorities."

    The challenges around identifying and verifying beneficial ownership information may be burdensome, but the risks that come with non-compliance are even greater. Companies that adopt a full transparent approach, including ownership structures and disclosure of beneficial ownership information, maintain investors’ confidence, whose support can help to finance further growth.Dr Geraldine Spiteri Lucas is Malta Business Registry’s Chief Legal Officer and she heads the Legal and Enforcement Unit.

    Dr Geraldine Spiteri Lucas is Malta Business Registry’s Chief Legal Officer and she heads the Legal and Enforcement Unit.
  • 1 Sep 2020 13:58 | Anonymous
    The Accountant – Is Good Governance on our Agenda?  –  Summer 2020 (MIA Publication)
    Mixing the old with the new, the role of the modern accountant is an ever changing one, and if we want to master the modern challenges that we face as professional accountants we need to ensure we have solid foundations and an open mind.
    Looking back to the early stages of my accountancy career or rather my education, you could see that my passion for numbers and my frame of mind was something that speared me on to assess the subject further. Thorn between going into a career of architecture/engineering versus a financial path, one of the early factors that pushed me towards the latter was my Accountancy teacher way back in secondary school.
    Some of us are fortunate enough to cross paths with educators that do more than just teach content and syllabus, but they look deeper to find that spark that could be developed into something brighter.
    Once I had chosen to pursue a career in Accountancy & Finance, various factors led me down the ACCA route followed by a Masters in Financial Services, and throughout that journey I was even more fortunate to come across some great minds and personalities that contributed invaluably to my overall educational experience. Some lessons may be taught in the classroom, but others are taught on the job and in the most random of places in the most unexpected times.
    The message here is that any good professional needs mentorship, and you will find the good ones and the not so good ones, but when you know you know, so limit your exposure to those who cannot help you develop; I will always be grateful to all those who contributed towards building my passion for the profession, simultaneously developing my knowledge and understanding of what makes a true professional.

    "If you want to make it in today’s day and age you need to put education before earnings, ironic coming from an accountant but an accountants foundation years are everything that could make you or break you."

    I would say that my appreciation of the underpinning fundamental concepts are what gave me the initial layers to build on from there.
    Once I truly grasped those core functions, it was all about building confidence and motivating myself to find solutions that others were not necessarily looking for. The tools we have at our disposal in this “intelligence” age that we are living, leaves very little excuse for anyone not wanting to look closer, dig deeper and analyse further.

    "Fight inertia and complacency and feed your desire to challenge and improve."

    My willingness to change and the ability to carry out change is what makes my job interesting day after day, we need to encourage an ever-developing mind, one that continues to search for new solutions. Pursue further educational development, take part in networks and discussion groups and share experiences with fellow peers.
    I also find that it is vital to surround yourself with strong team members and well-motivated colleagues, my working relationship with my colleagues is one of the driving forces that pushes me to do more and wanting to raise the bar further. The team aspect will allow for the strengthening of the various aspects associated with our role, be it technical, practical or otherwise. Supporting successful organisations poses challenges on a daily basis and the vastness of the subject at hand makes it increasingly difficult to remain on top of everything associated with our role, and that’s were a solid technical team with varied areas of expertise plays an extremely key role.
    The level of expectation placed on an accountant has made it apparently clear that we can no longer simply look at financial performance alone but we need to support and spearhead initiatives that increase the future viability and success of our organisations. In order to do so we cannot rely on micro management or cross functional switching carried out consistently. In order to maintain a high level of consistency, we need to ensure structures are in place that help us identify issues and weaknesses and also those opportunities that require actioning of some shape or form.
    Good corporate governance is a fundamental pillar of modern business management, and fortunately it is a topic that has evolved dramatically over the recent years. The implementation of good governance is a core success factor that will increase the chances of business best practices evolving with the times. Forming part of a group of relatively young accountants it is inbuilt within us to appreciate and understand the importance of these functions, however the challenge comes as we look to implement such systems within structures that have been long established. Obtaining the buy-in from all members of management who may not have been exposed to such structures in the past is probably the biggest challenge faced in the implementation process, closely followed by the cost of such implementations.
    Traditionally systems were implemented that were backed up by a financial analysis of cost and reward, when it comes to good corporate governance the benefits reach far beyond mere financial gain, but have a significant indirect impact on the way an organisation is run and how it is perceived by stakeholders. Good corporate governance can have an impact on the way an employee or client sees and respects an organisation, or how a potential investor analyses a company or even how a lender applies some reliance on such structures to reduce their assessment of risk exposure.
    As accountants we need to take decisions, a lot of the times quickly, some are straightforward and others can have great impact, however tough or pressing a matter, one needs to be confident enough to assess and analyse before taking a decision but remain bold and confident enough to take it. Decision making is what separates an accountant from another, and to get things done, informed decisions need to be taken… constantly. Structures are what makes positive consistency possible.
    Throughout my career (thus far) I have operated within a number of functions and within various industries, and quite confidently I can say that the implementation of good corporate governance has continued to develop and find itself inside the core of many organisations looking at the future in a bright and responsible way, this is undoubtedly a positive step forward for our profession and the longevity of the organisations operating within our communities.
    As a final point, I do find it is important that as professionals we retain our core values. In the absence of surveillance, one must do the right thing. If we do not keep our core values at the centre of all that we do, we risk losing vision of everything that matters, as professional accountants there is an element of responsibility that we owe to the wider community who depend on what we do, so we must take pride in what we do and do it with care and utmost professionalism.

    After 9 years with a Big 4 firm, Dean joined the Attard & Co Group as CFO. Today Dean is also the Managing Director of professional services firm Firstbridge, member of the MIA Young Members Focus Group and sits on various Company boards as executive and non-executive director.
  • 1 Sep 2020 10:43 | Anonymous
    The Accountant – Business as Usual?  –  Spring 2020 (MIA Publication)
    Hire purchase (HP) providers will find that the judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the case of Volkswagen Financial Services (UK) Ltd: C-153/17 interesting.
    The case deals with the right of recoverability of VAT incurred on ‘overhead’ costs by HP businesses and also provides guidance on the type of method to be used to determine the recoverable proportion of the residual input tax incurred by these businesses.
    Volkswagen Financial Services (UK) Ltd (VWFS) is a UK based company forming part of the German group, Volkswagen AG. VWFS operates in six sectors, one of these sectors being the ‘Retail’ sector which encompasses the HP sales, leasing of Volkswagen group vehicles to customers, and the provision of maintenance and/or service contracts.
    In the course of its economic activity as a vendor/lessor of the vehicles and provider of maintenance and service contracts, the Retail sector involves other post-transaction responsibilities such as payment collection and dealing with customer complaints.
    This case concerns the recovery of input VAT incurred on the overhead costs incurred by VWFS. The residual input VAT in question was incurred by VWFS on a wide range of ‘overhead’ costs including temporary staff, training, recruitment, travel and subsistence, marketing, IT, heating, lighting and premises, furnishings, printing, stationery, tax and legal costs. These costs do not relate solely to the HP, leasing and maintenance/service transactions, and thus are allocated between the six sectors.
    Allocation is done either directly, if a cost is consumed in one particular sector, or in proportion to their turnover. In the other five sectors, turnover is used as a basis to calculate the recoverable proportion of the residual input VAT. However, in the case of the Retail sector, VWFS and Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) did not agree on how the recoverable portion of residual input VAT should be calculated.
    With respect to HP arrangements, VWFS purchases vehicles from dealerships and supplies such vehicles, in its own name, to customers to whom it also provides certain related services. The consideration paid by the customer under a HP agreement is divided into two parts:
    1. the price of the vehicle, being equal to the price paid by VWFS to the dealership, and
    2. the ‘finance charges’, being the interest charged to customers which includes a margin of overheads, all the other fees and provisions as well as a profit margin.
    On the basis of the above, WVFS put forward its proposed methods of calculating the recoverable portion of residual input VAT which takes into account the fact that it makes both exempt and taxable supplies, however, HMRC did not agree with the proposed approach.
    The following questions were posed to the CJEU:
    1. “Where general overhead costs attributed to HP transactions (which consist of exempt supplies of finance and taxable supplies of cars), have been incorporated only into the price of the taxable person’s exempt supplies of finance, does the taxable person have a right to deduct any of the input tax on those costs?” and;
    2. “What is the proper interpretation of paragraph 31 of Case C-93/98, Midland Bank, and specifically the statement that overhead costs “are part of the taxable person’s general costs and are, as such, components of the price of an undertaking’s products?”
    The CJEU started by addressing the nature of a HP transaction for VAT purposes. The CJEU held that it is for the national court to determine whether there is a single, complex, composite transaction or a number of separate supplies. In this case, the CJEU held that it was in agreement with what the Supreme Court had determined, i.e. that there were separate supplies of taxable goods and exempt finance.
    Moving on, with respect to the question on recoverability of residual input VAT, the CJEU made reference to the principles and case law concerning deduction, in particular that a right of input tax deduction arises where there is a direct and immediate link between the input tax and a particular output transaction or with the overall economic activities of the taxpayer.
    In this case, the costs in question had a direct and immediate link with the VWFS’ overall business activities, and the point that they were not factored into the taxable sale price of the goods did not affect such fact, and therefore these were to be considered as cost components of the Taxpayer’s overall activities, thus giving VWFS the right to deduction.
    Having established this principle, the next step involved determining how the recoverable proportion should be calculated. In terms of the Directive, there are two possible ways how this can be calculated:
    1. The turnover-based method (Article 173(1)), or
    2. The use of any other method which would yield a fairer recovery (Article 173(2)).
    Reference was made to the case ‘Banco Mais’ (C‑183/13), whereby the CJEU had determined that a Member State is not precluded from excluding the element of asset leasing income representing the cost of acquiring the goods from a use-based partial exemption pro-rata calculation. However, that did not mean that Member States could apply that exclusion as a general rule to all similar types of transaction.
    It was also stated that if such an exclusion would mean that the recovery of input VAT failed to reflect the extent to which inputs were used for the purposes of taxed transactions, a method based on such an exclusion could not be more accurate than the turnover-based method.
    In conclusion:
    • The CJEU determined that the overhead costs were directly related to the activities of VWFS as a whole, and not merely with the activities of certain sectors.
    • The fact that VWFS did not include those costs in the price of the taxable transactions (i.e. supply of vehicles), but included them only in the price of the exempt supplies (i.e. finance supply), did not change this position.
    • Therefore, VWFS still had the right to deduct VAT proportionately.
    • Furthermore, the CJEU concluded that in the case where Member States apply a special method of apportionment, such method should take into consideration the initial value of the goods supplied, to ensure a more accurate apportionment than that which would result from the application of the turnover-based allocation.

    After graduating with a Masters in Accountancy, Yanica joined PwC in 2017 and joined the Firm’s Company Administration Services Department. During 2018 she moved to PwC’s Tax Compliance and Advisory Department whilst she is actively involved in PwC’s VAT Team.

    Mark read law and an M.A. in Financial Services at the University of Malta. He joined the firm in 2012 and forms part of the PwC Tax & Legal team; involved in various tax and corporate advisory services. He also has substantial experience with the EU gambling regulatory environment, and forms part of high profile client service teams in the area, advising key industry players including European Union institutions. Mark read law and an M.A. in Financial Services at the University of Malta. He joined the firm in 2012 and forms part of the PwC Tax & Legal team; involved in various tax and corporate advisory services. He also has substantial experience with the EU gambling regulatory environment, and forms part of high profile client service teams in the area, advising key industry players including European Union institutions. 

  • 28 Aug 2020 11:08 | Anonymous
    The Accountant – Is Good Governance on our Agenda?  –  Summer 2020 (MIA Publication)
    I am... a legal professional with twenty-three years of experience, with my main area of specialization being EU law and policy. I also juggle the roles of a mother and a wife. My career and life challenges have exposed me to different experiences which I leverage on both at the workplace and in my personal life.

    My role at MIA is… is that of providing legal support to the Institute as well as that of coordinating the tasks of the MIA’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Committee and the Direct Tax Committee. Also, within my remit, are the tasks of ensuring that members have the necessary training in relation to AML matters as well as coordinating with the relevant authorities to ascertain an ongoing working relationship with same.
    I am motivated… a healthy working environment which enables me to achieve my full potential.
    To me the Accounting profession… was not one which I was very familiar with until I joined the MIA. My experience at the MIA is providing me with a detailed insight into the world of accountants and auditors.
    My life motto… is never leave for tomorrow the things that you can do today!
    In my free time… I travel and travel some more. Spending time in close contact with nature is therapeutic for both my body and soul. Trekking and exploring unchartered territory help to relieve the daily pressures of my career and life obstacles.
    I contribute to MIA’s mission… through my experience and expertise in order to ensure that members are provided with the necessary professional guidance, technical support and ongoing training which they require.
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