With the recent exclusion of Cyprus and many Guernsey based administrators from the UK based Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pensions Scheme (QROPs) scheme, Malta is gaining pre-eminence as the jurisdiction of choice for QROP providers to be established.
Malta, under the single regulator of the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) provides a secure, regulated environment under which QROP administrators, whilst maintaining flexibility in respect of investments and withdrawals and all within a flexible tax environment.
As Pillar II pension schemes, QROPs schemes established in Malta may apply to HMRC for formal acceptance of the scheme as a QROPS. Upon approval by HMRC as a QROPS, the Maltese scheme could accept funds or assets transferred from existing UK pension schemes.
Such UK individuals as beneficiaries under a Malta QROPS may only receive benefits from the scheme once they have reached the age of 50 but before turning 70; although exceptions for early access exist upon death of invalidity. Upon maturity of the QROPs, an individual beneficiary would be entitled to either opt to take an annuity and/or a lump sum payment. All such details, as to timing and amounts of benefits, would be specified in the trust deed/scheme document.
Diskcussion with the MFSA before submitting any documents or applications are highly advisable and can substantially shorten the time in which the Malta QROPs may be established.
The MFSA license would be procured pursuant to the submission to the MFSA of an appropriate application, the accompanying trust deed/scheme document (detailing, for example, the purpose and rules governing the scheme) and any other documentation or information required by the MFSA.
The MFSA would consider the application and supporting documentation having regard to:
• compliance with the provisions and requirements of applicable legislation
• the protection of investors and the general public
• the protection of the reputation of Malta taking into account Malta’s international commitments
• the protection of competition and choice
• the reputation and suitability of the scheme administrator and any other parties connected to the scheme
An auditor as approved by the MFSA.
An administrator – who may or may not also be the trustee – responsible for the day to day management and operation of the scheme.
A trustee, authorised by the MFSA, of the scheme – whose purpose is to set up the trust. The trustee may also undertake the functions of administrator provided, of course, that the trustee has all requisite expertise and resources.
A custodian – the MFSA may re require the appointment of a custodian charged with safekeeping all the scheme’s assets and who may be required to monitor the administrator in the exercise of his duties.
A licensed asset manager – required to manage the assets of the scheme should the administrator not have the necessary expertise or resources to do so.
Acumum can assist QROPs schemes in the preliminary discussions with the MFSA as well as assisting in the setting up and licensing of your QROP scheme. Contact us for further information.