Malta’s greylisting to be discussed at FATF plenary session in coming days

Last Updated on Sunday, 12 June, 2022 at 5:23 pm by Andre Camilleri

Malta’s greylisting is expected to be discussed during the plenary session of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that will be held in the coming days, The Malta Independent on Sunday is informed. There is as yet no guarantee that the discussion will lead to Malta being removed from the grey list.

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.

FATF hybrid meetings, including of the Evaluations and Compliance Group as well as a plenary session, are scheduled to take place between today and 17 June. Informed sources said that Malta’s situation will be discussed during the plenary session, but do not know if the country will be taken off the grey list.

Government has always been cautious in its comments about its expectations regarding when Malta will get off the list.

While some sources were optimistic, they still urged caution. They cannot say whether the plenary would take a decision on Malta’s greylisting, as that would be up to the plenary. However, sources said that an on-site visit normally takes place once the team responsible for monitoring the country believes that the country has implemented what it needs to. Such a visit is used to ensure that what was reported to the FATF was actually implemented on the ground, sources added.

Recently, the Police Force came under fire after Iosif Galea was allowed to travel out of Malta, despite a German European arrest warrant having been issued last year. Galea, in May, was arrested in Italy by the Italian authorities over the German European Arrest Warrant linked to a tax investigation. An inquiry by the Police Complaints Board in Malta into this matter was launched.

This newsroom sent questions to the Office of the Prime Minister, asking whether the Prime Minister is worried that the Galea situation could impact Malta’s chances of getting off the FATF grey list and also whether the Prime Minister will be appointing a separate independent inquiry to the one being run by the Police Complaints Board.

“Malta is implementing the action plan which was agreed upon with the FATF and it is the implementation of this plan that should showcase the Maltese authorities’ commitment to strengthen their work in the areas identified. While the case which you are referring to is being examined by the independent Police Complaints Board, led by a former judge, last year the authorities took action against the person whom you are referring to – in yet another display of effective and proactive regulatory authorities,” a government spokesperson said.

Among other things, in November 2021, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) had imposed an administrative penalty of €53,333 on Galea “in view of the performance of unauthorised business activity and the failure to provide the requested information to the Authority”. Moreover, the Authority directed Galea to cease the provision of any services which require prior authorisation or registration from the MFSA, including the provision of company service provider services as defined under the applicable law. Galea is appealing the decision.

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