Casinos for youFATF’s dreaded grey list caused Malta severe distress as the island country prizes its high standing in the financial world. The anti-money laundering watchdog finally extended an olive branch to the European nation.
In its latest plenary, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) reveals that Malta accomplished significant improvement in anti-money laundering processes and therefore the body removed the island country from its grey list.
Maltese authorities had several recommendations to improve on, following MONEYVAL’s enhanced follow-up report on the country’s Anti-money Laundering (AML) and Counter-terrorism Financing (CTF) protocols, last year April.
Maltese authorities uphold that the increased monitoring and grey list status was unnecessary and point to the damage this caused for the reputation of the region. The gambling industry applauds the news, as the Maltese gambling licence once more represents the trustworthy segment of the market.
FATF advised the government of Malta to continue its efforts and take guidance from MONEYVAL to create incorruptible AML and CTF regimes.
All-round Technical Compliance
In February this year, the FATF commented on Malta’s marked improvement relating to the recommendations filed by MONEYVAL, the anti-money laundering regional partner of FATF. Maltese authorities had instructions to increase their compliance in 8 sections of their AML and CTF regimes, one of which links to tax evasion.
MONEYVAL first flagged the island country for increased monitoring in 2021 in an enhanced follow-up report addressing strategic deficiencies. This placed Malta on the financial watchdog’s grey list along with countries like Yemen, Syria, and Myanmar, making it the first European country on the list.
The lack of deficiencies weighed heavily on the region’s reputation as Malta is one of the globe’s most attractive investment jurisdictions with a highly reputable gambling regulatory body.
As the country upheld and improved on their AML protocols, the FATF reinstated its position on the whitelist, effective 17 June. The FATF discussed the matter during the three-day-long plenary held in Germany last week and confirmed Malta’s significant improvement.
In-Person and On Paper
The FATF reported that Malta substantially improved and completed the required reforms, which included a list of 8 recommendations, after their previous plenary. A final secret vote sealed the country’s move onto FATF’s whitelist. An onsite visit confirmed compliance with all recommendations and on Wednesday last week, 37 jurisdictions – excluding Malta - and two regional organisations voted the country off the grey list.
Eight technical compliance shortfalls listed in the original report include protocols linked to tax evasion, beneficial ownership information, and information sharing. In the plenary report, the FATF noted:
“Malta has strengthened the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime to meet the commitments in its action plan regarding the strategic deficiencies that the FATF identified in June 2021 related to the detection of inaccurate company ownership information and sanctions on gatekeepers who fail to obtain accurate beneficial ownership information, as well as the pursuit of tax-based money laundering cases utilising financial intelligence.”
The last enhanced follow-up report from MONEYVAL re-rated Malta as largely compliant and compliant in all eight recommendation categories. Although the country is in the clear, the FATF recommends Malta continue its collaboration with MONEYVAL and noted that enhanced follow-up remains in place. Malta must report back to the plenary in 2024.
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