The Malta Independent 18 January 2022, Tuesday

TMID Editorial: FATF and the road to exiting the grey list

Tuesday, 7 December 2021, 09:19 Last update: about 2 months ago

Malta’s position on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list is an issue that, as more time passes, will see more negative effects on the country.

FIAU deputy director Alfred Zammit told The Malta Independent on Sunday during an interview that Malta will “undoubtedly” meet all the requirements of the action plan and get off the grey list. This is undoubtedly good news.

Remaining grey listed would have far reaching damaging effects, and the fact that the Maltese Authorities are confident that the country will not stay on means that the work they are doing is generating confidence.

The question becomes, however, when. When will Malta get off the grey list? This is a key issue, as the quicker Malta is off the better.

Malta was grey-listed by the FATF in June after Malta was deemed to have made insufficient progress in two areas. These are related to information about the Ultimate Beneficiary Owners of companies and on efforts to combat money laundering deriving from tax evasion. Zammit said that the FATF already gave Malta positive feedback when the authorities reported on their progress last October. Malta is currently in the second four-month round of reporting and is in regular contact with the FATF to update it further on the progress made.

Asked how Malta is addressing the action plan in a tangible way, Zammit said that both the FIAU and the police have engaged more human resources, but also systems.

“Over the last couple of years, we invested in systems that help us access and analyse information more quickly. This includes, for example, the Centralised Bank Account Register (CBAR), which lets us check in a matter of minutes, whether a person has a bank account in Malta, and without the need to request that information from the banks, which is time-consuming. Receiving Suspicious Transaction reports is also important, so we organised training sessions for the private sector to inform them on how to report suspicious activity to the FIAU. We also worked with the private sector and the representative bodies to help them identify red flags and guide them on whether a case merits filing a report with the FIAU.”

These are just some of the things being introduced to reduce the risk of crime.

The procedures which have been introduced are rigorous, but have resulted in many firms requiring the dedication of a lot of time to compliance. In today’s day and age where financial crime is so complex, this is a necessity. The most important thing must be that we would not be taking a hard stance with the smaller businesses while being lenient with others. Everyone must be treated equally. At the same time support must be given to help those smaller businesses and professionals who would struggle with the compliance part of their work, to make sure they are not suffering as a result of the situation.

 

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