Malta is increasingly risking becoming the first EU country to find its name on an intergovernmental group’s ‘grey list’ of nations that pose a high risk of financial crime by the end of the year, according to reports by Moneylaundering.com.
Following an evaluation by Moneyval last September – the European branch of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – it concluded that Malta remains “highly exposed to illicit finance but lacks the resources and infrastructure required to prosecute and seize assets from money launderers and the criminals they serve,” the report stated.
A few months ago, Chief Officer for Strategy, Policy and Innovation at the MFSA, Chris Buttigieg, had reacted to this prospect, saying that being placed on the grey list of the FATF would be “very serious” for Malta.
“We need to raise the bar and ensure that there are certain standards and we need to convince our peers and international institutions that we’re serious in the way we carry out our supervisory financial processes and our enforcement.”
Malta was given until next month by the FATF to implement Moneyval’s 58 recommendations to up its game against financial crime, and avoid being included in the intergovernmental group’s grey list of high-risk jurisdictions. Due to COVID-19, the deadline has been extended to October.
The grey list was introduced by the FATF to highlight strategic AML deficiencies in nations, and push them into "committing to meaningful reforms to address their weaknesses". There are currently 13 countries on the list, including the Bahamas, Ghana, Iceland and Panama.