Bank of Valletta was preparing for the possible pull-out of ING, its sole remaining provider of correspondent banking services in US dollars, an official confirmed. The official, who asked not to be named, said mitigating measures were being taken over fears that the Dutch bank could pull the plug on its correspondent banking services to Malta.
ING is the last remaining provider of correspondent banking services to BOV in US dollars. Deutsche Bank terminated its servicing of such transactions two years ago. ING was fined €775 million in September after admitting that criminals had been able to launder money through its accounts. Ever since, it has been on a de-risking exercise and correspondent banking relationships with small jurisdictions seen as high risk are being severed.
Malta’s willingness to combat financial crime has been called into question over recent years, fuelled in part by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s refusal to dump his chief of staff, Keith Schembri, and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi over their involvement in the Panama Papers scandal.
ING did not respond to a request for comment from the Times of Malta.