Malta Business Registry purges data of tens of thousands of companies
The Malta Business Registry has erased the records of over 30,000 companies “Struck Off” from its online registry system.
The Economy Minister announced that the Malta Business Registry had removed around 10,000 dormant companies from the register. However, the number of companies affected by this purge are far more than those announced, with 30,000 being a conservative estimate
This is highly unusual, as countries normally allow a period of time in which records can be checked, for obvious reasons. In the UK, for example, which is also subject to EU data protection laws, full searches relating to dissolved companies are available online and fully searchable for at least six years after dissolution.
Malta went for instant removal of details after a company is struck off. With this latest development, the MBR did far more than merely strike off companies but literally purged any evidence of old companies and their past activities from the online system.
Anyone looking up companies could previously see the names of companies’ directors, shareholders, auditors and look at their accounts, consult financial records filed by such companies, including their liquidation accounts, as well as the individuals previously involved. It was also possible to search for directors’ involvements (not shareholders) in Maltese companies but this functionality was also removed by MBR, reportedly citing “data protection” reasons.
Following this purge of data, the online system only shows very basic information such as the name of the company, its company number and date of incorporation. The MBR still allows physical inspection of company documents, but this involves physically going to the MBR’s offices in Zejtun and more importantly, knowing exactly what information is being sought.
In 2018, the Maltese government rebranded Malta as “Blockchain Island”
While “Blockchain Island” has since fizzled out, the hype and incentives resulted in a veritable gold rush by Russians, Chinese and others setting up companies in Malta.
Two years later, not a single cryptocurrency operator has been licensed and hundreds have since been liquidated.
With this overnight purge, all that remains online is their often nondescript former name.