Updated at 6.32pm with Bernard Grech address.

Malta is “redoubling its efforts” to get off the grey list of untrustworthy financial jurisdictions, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Wednesday.  

Abela said that while the island now has a strong legal and regulatory framework, having implemented a number of reforms in recent months, it must now prove that these rules are being enforced by the authorities.  

“We are redoubling national efforts to implement reforms, and will be boosting resources, to the courts, prosecutorial and law enforcement entities,” Abela said.  

The government will be allocating €10 million to strengthen a number of national institutions, the digitalisation of the court system and introducing reforms to improve the Permanent Commission Against Corruption and the Asset Recovery Bureau, among others.

Abela also pledged increased focus at the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit when it comes to producing intelligence in line with the island’s main money laundering risks.  

“This is indeed a high-level political commitment,” he said.   

Malta was last month placed on the Financial Action Task Force's so-called grey list of untrustworthy financial jurisdictions and has since signed a commitment to improve its law enforcement. 

The prime minister was addressing a two-day financial services conference organised by Finance Malta about the impact of the greylisting on the island's economy. 

Finance Malta is a public-private initiative tasked with promoting the country as an international financial centre and attracting foreign direct investment to the island.  

PN government would overturn grelisting in three months

On Tuesday the conference heard how Malta hopes to get off the grey list of untrustworthy financial jurisdictions within 18 months

Alfred Camilleri, the permanent secretary at the Finance Ministry said that Malta had a “very ambitious” plan to get off the grey list. 

In a statement on Wednesday, the Nationalist Party said that if elected it would manage to get Malta back on the white list in three months.  

Meanwhile, Abela told Wednesday’s conference he is “heartened” by positive signals sent out by two of the four rating agencies that review the island, as well as the European Commission, which, he said, has already indicated its trust by upgrading Malta’s economic growth forecast.  

Turning to the private sector, Abela urged financial services practitioners to help the government in its mission to get Malta back onto the FATF white list.  

“We need to accept that the financial services sector will experience ever-increasing regulation. The state has a role to play here but the private sector is a gatekeeper too,” he said. 

'We offered to help' Bernard Grech 

Opposition leader Bernard Grech told the conference he is willing to work with the government to help get Malta off the financial grey list, as the country needs to clean up its image.

“It is important to understand that the financial services industry, is one of the pillars of the Maltese economy. This didn't happen by chance. It happened because the National Party in government decided to open up for it,” Grech said.

However, the island’s reputation today is no longer what it once was.

Trust and credibility had been lost and these would not be easily won back.

Ticking boxes on a technical to-do list, he said, was simply not enough.

“We have to convince our international partners, professionals abroad, and also countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and the rest, that Malta can be trusted,” he said.

Grech said he had been offering the government a bipartisan approach to solving this crisis, but had so far been shrugged off.

This, he added, was why he had asked the government to publish all the correspondence between the government and the FATF, and why he had asked for a parliamentary debate and committee to be called on this issue.

However, the government appears unwilling to accept the PN’s help in this regard.

“Unfortunately, the Government is still reluctant. We want to be on-board, but the Government has to let us be on board,” he said.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us