Updated 8am with Malta Chamber of SMEs statement
Malta ended up being greylisted by an international anti-money laundering body mainly because of “insufficient enforcement”.
Sources privy to the decision said certain key international partners within the financial action task force were unimpressed by the steps taken by Malta to effectively crackdown on financial crime and terrorism financing.
While Malta was able to demonstrate a raft of anti-money laundering reforms on paper, the FATF deemed that this had not translated into enough prosecutions and convictions. The reasons behind the greylisting have so far been shrouded in secrecy.
Formal acknowledgement of the FATF’s greylisting, and the reasons behind it, are only expected to be announced on Friday (today).
“I fully concur with the prime minister’s comments,” Muscat said in a short comment when contacted by Times of Malta on Thursday.
Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has dismissed hopes of being taken off the grey list as early as October.
Speaking on Thursday on TVM programme Xtra, Caruana said the date is “unrealistic” with sources saying a revision is unlikely before another year.
Caruana said the fact that Malta was deemed compliant with anti-money laundering legislation by Moneyval, a Council of Europe body, was a positive first step.
He said introducing laws required time.
The greylisting means Malta now finds itself placed on par with countries like Panama and Zimbabwe in the need to step up its efforts to fight financial crimes.
Opposition Leader Bernard Grech has urged the government not to opt for an early election, arguing this would only distract from the work that needs to be done to get Malta off the grey list.
'Businesses want their name cleared'
The Malta Chamber of SMEs on Friday warned that Maltese businesses did not want to operate within an economy of shady repute and wanted their name cleared immediately.
"It is now very important to really understand what Malta has missed out on and address the real problems that have landed Malta in this situation in the first place.
"Small businesses fear that what will come next from our policymakers will be more of the same and they will continue bearing the brunt for the deplorable actions carried out by a few," it said in a statement.