Financial Action Task Force Puts Malta on ‘Grey List’
The worldwide anti-money laundering association FATF, the Financial Action Task Force, has moved to place Malta on its ‘grey list’. Such a move is designed to place further monitoring on territories it feels need more scrutiny.
Four Countries Added to Grey List
The FAFT announced its decision to place Malta on the grey list during a press call on June 25th. The small island territory, synonymous these days with gambling licenses, is one of a quartet of countries placed on the list along with Haiti, the Philippines, and South Sudan.
The rather unwanted qualification for making the grey list with the FAFT is when a territory has shown “strategic deficiencies” within their processes for countering money laundering, financing terrorism, and proliferation financing.
While three of the nations added aren’t currently among the world leaders in gambling licencing, the inclusion of Malta is a shock and a potential blow to what is a relatively small economy.
For its part, the Mediterranean island has agreed to work with the FAFT, its government having committed to a high-level partnership with both the body and MONEYVAL to shore up its effectiveness in fighting money laundering.
Malta Handed Action Plan for Improvement
The Financial Action Task Force has given Malta an action plan to help with its improvement. The plan appears to focus on three main areas, which the Maltese government has agreed to implement as soon as possible.
Via the action plan, Malta has agreed to demonstrate that all beneficial ownership information remains accurate. Also, it promises to sanction, when and where appropriate, legal persons should information they provide be found to be inaccurate or misleading.
Additionally, Malta will now rely more heavily on intelligence gathered from the FIU, the Financial Intelligence Unit, and make clearer the role of the unit compared to the Commissioner for Revenue.
Lastly, the Maltese government will also now increase their focus of FIU analyses on tax evasion and money laundering matters, ultimately leading to local police taking proper action against such crimes.
More Transparency Leads to Greater Money Laundering Concerns
Moving Malta to the FATF grey list comes after a report was commissioned in Malta by the Financial Intelligence Analysis unit back in May. The report warned that too many remote gaming licence holders were collecting data that adds no value.
The report further stated that if found, all sectors, not least remote gambling, have seen increasing numbers of suspicious transaction reports related to money laundering. In essence, this was a positive thing because it appears to show greater transparency.
Meanwhile, the Philippines also has an action plan of its own making which will help to strengthen its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist policies. In this case, the plan has seven points of action, with one focusing specifically on casino junkets.
The plan also includes a need for the government to use anti-money laundering controls to mitigate risks associated with casino junkets.
The government in the Philippines has also agreed to show effective risk-based supervision of professions – those designated as non-financial businesses – and implement new requirements for registration when it comes to money transfers. Law enforcement will also be able to access certain ownership information to help tackle these problems within the country.
How long these countries remain on the grey list remains to be seen.