Exiting the ‘grey list’

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 October, 2021 at 10:13 am by Andre Camilleri

It has only been a couple of months since Malta reeled from the news that it had been grey listed by the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, the FATF. While a previous assessment by the Council of Europe’s Moneyval had found Malta’s regulatory framework to be technically compliant, the FATF was not satisfied with the level of implementation of such framework in practice. This exposed Malta to increased and persistent money laundering and terrorist financing risks, pushing the FATF to place Malta on the list of countries which undergo increased monitoring.

Being on the FATF’s ‘grey list’ comes with little perks but with a lot of disadvantages, the most serious of which is the fact that being placed on such a list might affect the country’s attractiveness for investors. The level of risk assigned to a Malta-based company or individual when being assessed by a foreign institution has increased, with the consequence that investors might look elsewhere when deciding where to establish themselves. Undergoing extra due diligence entails time and money, factors which both investors and corporates surely seek to avoid when considering where to set up shop!

However, not all is doom and gloom. Exiting the grey list is not an impossible feat as can be seen from the experience of other countries. The Maltese government has clearly expressed its strong resolve to take the bull by the horns to address the matter according to an action plan agreed with the FATF. The national competent authorities embarked on the task from the word go and in collaboration with all stakeholders are seeking to pave the best way forward to come up with an action plan which will resolve Malta’s woes.  No easy task to fathom!

And where do professionals come into all of this?

The Malta Institute of Accountants believes that professionals have a fundamental role to play, particularly when considering that the FATF has highlighted the fight against tax crime and the need for further transparency of ultimate beneficial owners of companies as the two major areas of concern which must be addressed by the country to get itself de-listed.

In its efforts to highlight the importance of these elements, the MIA will be hosting a one-day Conference bringing together a line-up of key speakers who will be able to provide further insight into the main concerns raised by the FATF and the necessary corrective action identified.

With the input of representatives from all relevant national competent authorities, this insightful conference will surely serve as the ideal forum for a candid discussion as to how professionals and competent authorities can all toe the same line to ensure that Malta exits the said grey list in the shortest time possible and with the least dire repercussions possible.

Exiting the country’s current predicament is in the common interest of all stakeholders and Malta’s efforts will only be successful with a collective effort by the different stakeholders. Join us at the Malta Institute of Accountant’s AML Conference, on Friday 7th December 2021. Further details on https://www.miamalta.org/exiting-the-grey-list.

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