The Audit Committee
The Audit Committee’s primary objective is to assist the Board of Directors in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities over the financial reporting processes, financial policies, and internal control structure. The Audit Committee oversees the conduct of the internal and external audit and acts to facilitate communication between the Board, management, and the internal and external auditors. The external auditors are invited to attend Audit Committee meetings. The Audit Committee reports directly to the Board.
The terms of reference of the Audit Committee include support to the Board in its
responsibilities in dealing with issues of risk, control and governance, and associated assurance of the Issuer. The Board has set formal terms of establishment and the terms of reference of the Audit Committee which set out its composition, role and function, the parameters of its remit as well as the basis for the processes that it is required to comply with.
Briefly, the Audit Committee is expected to deal with and advise the Board of Directors on:
(a) its monitoring responsibility over the financial reporting processes, financial policies, and internal control structures;
(b) maintaining communications on such matters between the Board, management, and the external auditors; and;
(c) preserving the Issuer’s assets by assessing the Issuer’s risk environment and
determining how to deal with those risks.
In addition, the Audit Committee has the role and function of evaluating any proposed transaction to be entered into by the Issuer and a related party to ensure that the execution of any such transaction is at arm’s length, on a commercial basis and ultimately in the best interests of the Issuer.
Furthermore, the Audit Committee has the role of assessing any potential conflicts of interest between the duties of the Directors and their respective private interests or duties unrelated to the Issuer.
All three Directors sitting on the Audit Committee are independent non-executive Directors. Audit Committee members are appointed for a period of three years, unless terminated earlier by the Board.
The Committee members are:
Mario Camilleri – Chairman
Robert C Aquilia – Interim Chairman
Dennis Gravina – Member
Mario Camilleri is the independent non-executive Director who is competent in accounting and, or auditing matters in terms of the Capital Markets Rules. The chairman of the Audit Committee, appointed by the Board, is entrusted with reporting to the Board on the workings and findings of the Audit Committee.
Pursuant to its terms of reference, the Audit Committee’s remit covers the Issuer and each of the Guarantors.
Compliance with the Code of Corporate Governance
Prior to the existent Bond Issue, the Issuer was not regulated by the Capital Markets Rules and accordingly was not required to comply with the Code of Principles of Good Corporate Governance forming part of the Capital Markets Rules (the “Code”). As a consequence of the Bond Issue, the Issuer shall comply with the Code to the extent that this is considered complementary to the size, nature, and operations of the Issuer as a debt issuer.
The Issuer supports the Code and is confident that the application thereof shall result in positive effects accruing to the Issuer.
Going forward, in view of the reporting structure adopted by the Code, the Issuer shall, on an annual basis in its annual report, explain the level of the Issuer’s compliance with the principles of the Code, in line with the “comply or explain” philosophy of the Code, explaining the reasons for non-compliance, if any.
So far the Board considers the Issuer to be in compliance with the Code save for the following exceptions:
Principle 7 (Evaluation of the Board’s Performance): The Board does not consider it necessary to appoint a committee to carry out a performance evaluation of its role, as the Board’s performance is evaluated on an ongoing basis by, and is subject to the constant scrutiny of the Board itself (more than half of which is composed by independent non-executive Directors), the Issuer’s shareholders, the market and all of the rules and regulations to which the Issuer is subject as a company with its securities listed on a regulated market.
Principle 8 (Committees): The Board considers that the size and operations of the Issuer do not warrant the setting up of remuneration and nomination committees. In particular, the Issuer does not believe it is necessary to establish a nomination committee as appointments to the Board are determined by the shareholders of the Issuer in accordance appointment process set out in the Issuer’s Memorandum and Articles of Association. The Issuer considers that the members of the Board possess the level of skill, knowledge and experience expected in terms of the Code.
Principle 9 (Relations with Shareholders and with the Market): currently there is no
established mechanism disclosed in the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Issuer to trigger arbitration in the case of conflict between the minority shareholders and the controlling shareholders. In any such cases should a conflict arise, the matter is dealt with in the Board meetings and through the open channel of communication between the Issuer and the minority shareholders via the office of the company secretary. In addition, such requirement in the Code is, in the Board’s view, targeted at equity issuers rather than debt issuers.