QROPS going to Malta is just a tease, says regulator

QROPS schemes who have lost their status and want to relocate to Malta to get back in to the market are unlikely to win approval from regulators.

The head of the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has already hinted that the island is not a back door in to selling offshore pensions for providers who have had to close for business elsewhere.

MFSA head Joseph Bannister has made clear the island is not courting any of the 300 QROPS schemes that had to close in Guernsey as a result of a tax crackdown by HM Revenue & Customs.

He also confirmed that the MFSA was not handling applications from providers to open new QROPS in Malta.

“In November 2009, Malta, after much close work with HMRC, received its QROPS status and the MFSA approved its first schemes in the months following,” said Bannister.

“Malta continues to work closely with HMRC on its QROPS and we would be very careful about which schemes we would allow to establish here. If schemes have had their QROPS status removed, for instance, then it is unlikely the MFSA would want to approve them.”

Malta has 10 pension schemes on the latest HMRC list.

The island is tipped as an ideal destination for QROPS, because as a full member of the European Union the MFSA runs strict financial regulation and the government has tax treaty ties with many other countries.

The lack of applications from Guernsey QROPS providers may also relate to behind-the-scenes negotiations between the island’s tax authority and HMTC over reinstatement of at least some of the closed schemes.

Guernsey is updating pension laws to realign the island’s QROPS with HMRC tax rules – with the details expected to be rubber-stamped in September before the States parliament.

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