Malta is set to be removed from the Financial Action Task Force’s ‘greylist’ of financial jurisdictions, according to reports.
Published in the Times of Malta, the country will now be placed under ‘increased monitoring’ and be categorised as ‘financially untrustworthy’, yet will be removed from the G7’s AML and anti-terrorist financing watchdog greylist.
“The grey-list lifting brings Malta back its degree of credibility, whilst diffusing inherent scepticism at both operational and investor level,” noted Russell Mifsud, Director and Gaming Lead, KPMG Malta.
“The journey of transitioning back to the white-list gives Malta the opportunity to come back stronger than it has ever been and to continue to build on its ecosystem as the igaming capital of the world. This in turn should provide industry stakeholders who call Malta home with a tangible benefit going forward.
“Thinking ahead, Malta’s challenge will be to maintain the rigorous standards it has committed to, whilst remaining business-friendly and sustainable when compared to other competing jurisdictions.”
The reported move was welcomed by the opposition Nationalist Party, however, current Prime Minister, Robert Abela of the Labour Party, underlined that he wouldn’t comment until the official announcement, which is due today.
Malta was placed on the greylist last summer off the back of complaints from EU members. The complaints emphasised that the island had little regulatory oversight on its domiciled businesses, tax avoidance and the processing of financial transactions.
It led to a MONEYVAL assessment, which saw the country join a list that included Syria, Albania, Myanmar and Zimbabwe.
Immediately following the FATF’s evaluation, PM Robert Abela and Finance Secretary, Alfred Camilleri, drafted an ‘action plan’ to remove Malta from the greylist by 2023.
Last October the FIAU ordered that all Malta-domiciled businesses should observe its revised AML commands that established a new operating procedure on customer due diligence, reporting procedures, outsourcing, staff training and vetting, record keeping and interactions with ‘non-reputable jurisdictions’.
In a statement to Malta’s igaming community, Carl Brincat, Chief Executive of Malta Gaming Authority, stated that work had begun to implement necessary changes that will be relayed to licensed igaming businesses.
“We understand that the greylisting of Malta as a jurisdiction may trigger a re-assessment of the risk posed by Malta-based entities by several stakeholders, such as international banks, and therefore our licensees may be faced with additional queries and requests for information by international partners.
“We are in fact prioritising outreach to the most relevant stakeholders in order to explain, through ever-increasing transparency, that the shortcomings identified in Malta’s regard do not relate to the gaming sector in any way and should therefore, in practice, not alter the manner in which these international stakeholders perceive and relate to our licensees.”