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Malta One Visit Away from Being Taken Out of FATF’s Grey List

Malta is due a visit by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) this Friday to clarify whether the country’s financial authorities have completed a previously assigned action plan related to Malta’s inclusion in the grey list.

‘Substantially Completed’ Action Plan

The global anti money laundering (AML) watchdog announced in its latest update that Malta had “substantially completed” its action plan to address issues related to money laundering and terror financing.

Following FATF’s plenary meeting in February, the global AML regulatory body outlined the country had made some key reforms related to beneficial ownership information, ensuring it is accurate and in cases where legal persons provide information that is found to be inaccurate, “appropriate, effective, proportionate, and dissuasive sanctions, commensurate with the money laundering/terror financing risks, are applied.”

FATF also referred to enforcement actions “applied to gatekeepers when they fail to comply with their obligations to obtain accurate and up-to-date beneficial ownership information.”

On the issue of authorities pursuing legal action against criminal tax and related money laundering cases, FATF’s preliminary assessment concluded that the country had undertaken decisive steps to enhance the use of the FIU’s financial intelligence, “including by clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the Commissioner for Revenue and the FIU.”

Removal from Grey List Far from Certain

FATF’s statement related to Malta’s application to be removed from the grey list was not conclusive, though recognizing the country’s increased “focus of the FIU’s analysis on these types of offenses, to produce intelligence that helps Maltese law enforcement detect and investigate cases in line with Malta’s identified money laundering risks to tax evasion.”

The island country became the first EU member state to enter FATF’s grey list of risky jurisdictions in June last year for failures in AML policies and procedures and was assigned the action plan to rectify the situation.

The latest update paved the way for the country to be removed from the category where it sits together with countries like Albania, Zimbabwe, Panama, the Cayman Islands, Syria, Yemen, and Myanmar, and provided that the visit this week confirms the achievements of the action plan, the end result could well mean removal from the grey list at the body’s next plenary meeting in Berlin this June.