Malta passes Moneyval test after wave of anti-money laundering operations
30 Apr 2021

Malta appears to have passed its Moneyval test after a series of reforms that beefed up the country’s anti-money laundering regime.

On Thursday, the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering committee voted in favour of a final report on Malta’s AML and terrorism-financing safeguards during a plenary session held in Strasbourg.

It is believed that the report commends Malta on its efforts to address financial crime shortcomings. However, the report will be held confidentially until it is officially published by Moneyval in summer. The decision is expected to be formally communicated in the coming days.

The Maltese government had received the conclusions from the Moneyval group to the draft Enhanced Follow-Up Report, a crucial document for the future of Malta’s banking and financial services industry.

Malta had initially failed a first assessment from Moneyval in 2019, after which the government was given a year to patch up any legislative gaps in terms of money laundering and terrorist-financing.

Last month, Robert Abela warned the financial services sector that Malta is in a crucial stage relating to the Moneyval assessment, with two or three months left of hard work to ensure Malta avoids being grey-listed.

Malta still faces a final verdict by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in June, to avoid being put on a financial grey-list. However, passing the Moneyval test would be a major step forward.

Reforms within the police force over the past 12 months have seen the creation of a more robust financial crimes unit that has led to high profile prosecutions on money laundering and other financial crimes.

This was an important development since one of the major complaints flagged by Moneyval was a lack of prosecutions by the police despite red flags noted by regulatory agencies like the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit and the Malta Financial Services Authority.

The FIAU and the MFSA have also undergone transformation with more resources being directed towards their way.

By Nicole Meilak, Malta Today, 29 April 2021

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