Updated - adds finance minister reaction below - Opposition leader Bernard Grech has written to the Financial Action Task Force amid reports that Malta risks being greylisted by the anti-money laundering group.

In his letter dated June 16 (see PDF below), Grech told the FATF that the PN, as an alternative government, would work to restore the reputation which Malta has lost.

Times of Malta reported earlier on Wednesday that Malta is heading into a final vote on whether or not it should be put on the money laundering offenders' list without a clean bill of health, after international experts within the task force gave the island mixed reviews. The FATF is the world's leading anti-money laundering watchdog.

Grech told the FATF that Malta's financial services industry had made "tangible and substantial investment in compliance and risk mitigation measures" and that genuine players "feel hard-done by the transgressions of some, who should have known better."

Writing on Facebook, Grech expressed disappointment over unverified reports that the United States, United Kingdom and Germany had taken a position against Malta. 

"This is a matter of national importance that can have an unprecedented negative impact on Malta's financial services and gaming industries, among others," Grech said. 

The government was politically responsible for it, he added, and a change of mentality was needed rather than a 'tick-the-box' exercise as declared by Robert Abela.

"After so much sacrifice, we should never have been put in this position, which certainly does not put Malta among the best in the world," Grech said in a dig at Abela's comments last week that he wanted Malta's economy to be among the world's finest. 

Finance Minister warns against political interference

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana in a Facebook post warned against political interference in the FATF's work, which should be purely technical.

He said Malta had passed all the technical points raised by Moneyval and should, logically, be successful in the FATF process as well. 

But if the technical process was undermined by ulterior political manouvres, the outcome was unknown and this was unfair given the hard work put in over the past 18 months.

Despite its small size, Malta was a sovereign country that would do whatever was necessary to safeguard its interests. 

In parliament, government whip Glenn Bedingfield hit out at Bernard Grech and said the opposition was siding with the foreigner. 

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