Barclays Bank plc have chosen not to deny or confirm reports about a circular issued to local stockbrokers, informing them that Maltese bank accounts within their remit, are to be shifted from Switzerland to London.
Emma Rees, a spokesperson for Barclays’s UK office, told Business Today the bank will “not comment on this issue”, adding that Barclays “are constantly monitoring ways to improve our business, particularly in offering our clients attention and efficiency.”
While Barclays Bank plc – one of the most trusted banks by Maltese – insisted on their no comment regarding the directive issued from London head office about the Maltese account holders, analysts have told Business Today that it is likely that the decision has been taken in the light that Malta is today a European Union member, therefore both the UK-based bank and the Maltese citizen who banks with them must have assets clearly declared.
In the past, Business Today is informed that Barclays Bank plc had written to Maltese stockbrokers proposing to direct Maltese account holders to shift their clients’ accounts to offshore business.
Though a UK bank, Barclays traditionally kept Maltese accounts within its Swiss branch, making funds there “protected” under Swiss law.
However, recent developments that followed years of tough negotiations between the EU and Switzerland, have brought about a change in Swiss banking legislation, in which European banks based in the non-EU enclave became obliged to report to the respective governments belonging to the 25-member bloc, details about accounts and their holders.
A transition period for voluntary declarations or repatriation of funds was granted in many EU states including Malta. However, whoever chose not to comply with the initiative was warned about the taxation measures and penalties that followed.
Prompted by this letter, some stockbrokers are reported to have already corresponded with Barclays and asked to keep the accounts in Switzerland, until they arrange to transfer the funds to a Swiss bank.
While many could interpret Barclays’s “invitation” to stockbrokers as a “tax related issue”, other analysts and stockbrokers reported that the move could be intended to streamline the business towards so called “passporting” reasons, where investment services could be serviced in both countries under reciprocal legislation.
Business Today also attempted to seek a comment from the Central Bank, however a spokesperson replied that the governor’s office will leave the matter entirely to the bank and the client.