The Malta Independent 26 June 2022, Sunday

TMID Editorial: Off the grey list, but the stain remains

Wednesday, 22 June 2022, 09:37 Last update: about 4 days ago

Last week Malta received the news that it had been taken off the grey list by the Financial Action Task Force.

One year after becoming the first European Union nation to be included among the countries which needed more monitoring because of its deficiencies in tackling money laundering and terror financing, Malta was deemed to have done enough to merit  being lifted out of its predicament.


At least, it took us the shortest possible time to make it out of the grey list. Thank God for small mercies.

Soon after the removal of Malta from the grey list was made official, we had Prime Minister Robert Abela appearing before the Maltese media to boast about the government’s work in the last 12 months.

Abela has not made many public appearances since the election. His activities have been limited and, when he did go somewhere as head of government, the media was not informed about it. We only received a statement after the event had taken place. We can count at least three instances when this happened in recent weeks.

Anyway, with something positive to speak about, this time the media were called up to his office in Castille to listen to Abela saying that Malta’s removal from the grey list was a success story because it confirms that the country is “a serious and reputable jurisdiction”.

The country, he said, had worked tirelessly and hard to make it off the grey list by addressing a long list of issues. We won’t stop here, he added. “Never again should our country end up on a list like this”, he pledged.

Well, it would have been much better if the country has never made it to the grey list in the first place. But what happened in the past years – to be fair to Abela, Malta ended up on the grey list mostly because of what had taken place under his predecessor, Joseph Muscat – inevitably earned us the dishonour.

Whatever Abela says, it is a stain that will remain. It is part of our history, and we can never say that Malta’s record in tackling money laundering and terror financing is perfect, as the remaining European Union countries so far can do.

What is hard to understand is why Abela went as far as saying that Malta is “an example to other jurisdictions”. We’re sure that no other country would boast about something like this.

To put it in football terms, over the past year it was like all other EU nations were in the top tier, while Malta had been relegated to the second division. That Malta made it back up with the other countries after one year cannot really be described as a success story.

Malta should not have been relegated in the first place. And the Labour government – again, mostly because of what Muscat’s administration had failed to do – is to blame for this.

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