In June 2021 Malta was placed on the grey list by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The 'grey list' officially refers to Jurisdictions Under Increased Monitoring and essentially includes countries that have significant deficiencies in their AML and CFT framework. Other grey listed countries include Albania, Cayman Islands, Yemen, South Sudan and Panama, amongst others.
Fortunately, the grey list is updated by the FATF regularly and thus if countries commit to implementing the necessary reforms and thus improving their AML and CFT framework to bring it in line with FATF standards then it is possible that they are removed from the same.
This being said, the FATF will be visiting Malta to confirm that the discussed action plan has been completed. Completion of the said action plan may result in the removal of Malta from the grey list. The date of such visit by AML experts has not been confirmed however such onsite visit will be taking place at the earliest possible date. This decision to carry out an onsite visit was confirmed by the FATF at its plenary session in February 2022 wherein it was expressed that Malta has substantially completed its action plan.
The action plan ultimately consisted of three key anti-money laundering issues which required better implementation in Malta, as per the following:
- continuing to demonstrate that beneficial ownership information is accurate and that, where appropriate, effective, proportionate, and dissuasive sanctions, commensurate with the ML/TF risks, are applied to legal persons if the information provided is found to be inaccurate; and ensuring that effective, proportionate, and dissuasive sanctions are applied to gatekeepers when they do not comply with their obligations to obtain accurate and up-to-date beneficial ownership information;
- enhancing the use of the FIAU's financial intelligence to support authorities pursuing criminal tax and related money laundering cases, including by clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the Commissioner for Revenue and the FIAU; and
- increasing the focus of the FIAU's analysis on these types of offences, to produce intelligence that helps Maltese law enforcement detect and investigate cases in line with Malta's identified ML risks related to tax evasion. The FATF will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and conduct an on-site visit at the earliest possible date. 1
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