Last Updated on Thursday, 16 June, 2022 at 9:02 pm by Andre Camilleri
Malta has been removed from the Financial Action Task Force’s grey list, The Malta Business Weekly has learnt.
The news came after a secret vote was taken at the currently ongoing FATF set of meetings, which includes a plenary, in Germany.
In comments outside Parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister Robert Abela said that he could not confirm or deny the news before it is made official, citing the FATF’s strict confidentiality surrounding its meetings. However, he said that Malta had carried out the reforms necessary, and that it would continue to do so even in the future.
Malta was greylisted by the FATF in June 2021. The country had then made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and Moneyval to strengthen the effectiveness of its anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism regime.
Malta had been told to further increase the focus of the FIAU’s financial analysis on serious tax offences and related money laundering; increase the use of financial intelligence in pursuing criminal tax and related money laundering cases and to improve the identification of inaccurate beneficial ownership information provided by Maltese legal persons, and the application of dissuasive, effective and proportionate sanctions on legal persons and subject persons for failure to comply with their beneficial ownership obligations.
Then, in February of this year, the FATF made the “initial determination” that Malta had “substantially” completed its action plan and an on-site visit was warranted to verify the implementation of reforms. FATF representatives, together with those from Moneyval, held the on-site visit in April, soon after the election.
The vote on Wednesday was held among 37 jurisdictions and two regional organisations – the European Commission and the Gulf Co-operation Council, which are both recognised by the FATF.
In a reactionary statement, the PN said that it was satisified to see Malta be removed from the grey list but said that the country’s name should never have been dragged through the mud by “the Labour government’s mistaken decisions” in the first place. This resulted in a number of entities being scrutinised a lot more, to the people’s detriment.
The PN also said that this decision also shows that PN leader Bernard Grech was right to say that it was possible for Malta to be removed from the grey list within three months of the general election.