FATF: We are implementing changes in good faith and we will not stop here – Finance Minister

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 June, 2021 at 9:29 am by Andre Camilleri

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana said Monday that he will be spending the next 48 hours trying to persuade “those who need convincing” that Malta deserves to pass the FATF test.

Malta is facing the prospect of being grey listed by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), despite passing the Moneyval test after introducing a raft of reforms, particularly to fight money laundering. Grey listing would make Malta less attractive to foreign investors and would hit the financial services sector especially hard.

The final vote is to be taken on Wednesday. According to reports, some countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany, are against giving Malta a pass grade and have been trying to convince other FATF members to vote against Malta.

Caruana has over the past days been holding meetings in efforts to persuade these members that Malta has done all it was asked to do in this field and will not stop there.

Last week, Caruana hinted that there could be political motives behind these countries’ reluctance to back Malta and warned that the country could use its veto powers against them.

Speaking to journalists outside Castille on Monday morning, Caruana said the government is working hard to ensure that Malta obtains the result “it deserves.”

“Malta has done all that it was asked to do, and we are working to persuade those who need convincing that it will not stop here, even if we pass the test. We are trying to convince them that we did all this in good faith and that we will do even more in the coming months and years.”

Caruana said he would not answer hypothetical questions and will wait until Wednesday’s vote before commenting on the outcome.

“Irrespective of what the outcome is, I can assure you that as Finance Minister I will be there to do everything I can so that the financial services sector moves forward, even if we are grey listed. Thursday will come as well, and we must ensure the livelihood of employees in this sector.”

Caruana appealed to the entire political class and anyone with some form of political influence to unite behind the same message. “A message for all of Malta, not for the PN or the PL. We must stand united to convince those who need convincing that Malta deserves to pass this test.”

Asked if there would be an element of horse-trading, and whether Malta would be ceding any rights in exchange for support, Caruana said this was not the case. “This is really a matter of seeing what is just and what is unjust. At the end of the day, we must protect Malta’s interests at all costs. We will not be putting anything on a platter … and we will not be subjecting ourselves to some form of blackmail.”

Asked whether he thought that his predecessors had failed in addressing shortcomings in the past, Caruana said he can only speak for himself. “I have done all that was possible for Malta to avoid being grey listed. We must keep persuading until the end that we’re doing what we’re doing in good faith and that we will not stop here, not even if we pass the test. We will take the necessary measures to safeguard our reputation in the months and years to come.”

Asked if he was hopeful that Malta would pass, he said Malta had passed the Moneyval test, but he prefers not to speculate on the FATF vote.

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