Hereunder we have noted the various warnings being issued in relation to the COVID-19 situation. Focus has been shifted to the effects such pandemic has had on financial markets. From a European standpoint, European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) together with National Competent Authorities (NCAs) have issued a statement including recommendations to financial market participants. On a local level,the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has issued a warning to the benefit of licence holders as well as the general public.
ESMA and NCAs are continuously monitoring the situation in view of the grave impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on financial markets in the European Union. ESMA is making the following recommendations to financial market participants:
· Business Continuity Planning – “Financial market participants, including infrastructures should be ready to apply their contingency plans, including deployment of business continuity measures, to ensure operational continuity in line with regulatory obligations”;
· Market disclosure – “issuers should disclose as soon as possible any relevant significant information concerning the impacts of COVID-19 on their fundamentals, prospects or financial situation in accordance with their transparency obligations under the Market Abuse Regulation“;
· Financial Reporting – “issuers should provide transparency on the actual and potential impacts of COVID-19, to the extent possible based on both a qualitative and quantitative assessment on their business activities, financial situation and economic performance in their 2019 year-end financial report if these have not yet been finalised or otherwise in their interim financial reporting disclosures”; and
· Fund Management – “asset managers should continue to apply the requirements on risk management, and react accordingly“.
ESMA, in coordination with NCAs, shall continue to monitor developments in financial markets as a result of the COVID-19 situation and is prepared to use its powers to ensure the orderly functioning of markets, financial stability and investor protection.
On the 12th of March 2020, the MFSA issued a warning regarding fraudulent schemes or financial scams that may be attempted due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The MFSA pointed out to its licence holders that in such climate, possible fraudulent schemes or financial scams shall attempt to take advantage of COVID-19 outbreak by targetting entities and individuals with the aim of misappropriating funds and/or obtaining sensitive personal information. Particular care must be made when such schemes relate to investments in developing cures, requests for donations, medical and health insurance policies in relation to COVID-19, offers for sale of supplies, use of phishing websites and emails with malicious content.
The MFSA recommends that consumers do not enter into any financial services transaction unless they have ascertained that the entity with whom the transaction is being made is authorised to provide such services by the MFSA (as listed: https://www.mfsa.mt/financial-services-register/) or another reputable financial services regulator.