The PN is calling on the government to address the shortcomings flagged by the Council of Europe’s Moneyval so that Malta does not fail this year's test and gets blacklisted.
Moneyval gave Malta a fail grade in its assessment of anti-money laundering laws and their enforcement back in September 2019. The panel gave Malta just over a year to address a wide range of shortcomings it uncovered.
In April, sources told Times of Malta that talks with the US government were held in recent months with a view to exploring a “partnership on financial reform” as concerns mount that Malta will not meet a fast-approaching deadline to beef up the policing of money laundering offences.
PN leader Adrian Delia said Malta was running out of time, and if it was blacklisted, people would be wary of investing their money here.
“We don’t afford to fail the test again and we need to implement legal amendments and change the government’s attitude,” he said at a press conference, adding that “doing things right must become part of our culture”.
Delia said Robert Abela had swapped roles with former prime minister Joseph Muscat, who is now a consultant on the government’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan.
Abela was running out of time and he needed to explain why nothing was being done about Nexia BT and its accountant Karl Cini and former minister Konrad Mizzi, among others.
Addressing the same conference, Opposition spokesman for finance Mario de Marco said the PN was flagging the reality of the financial services sector, which employed more than 12,000 people.
The sector was more resilient to the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic and should not be allowed to be negatively impacted by the government's shortcomings.
Moneyval’s warning followed several other shortcomings, he said, including the downgrading of Bank of Valletta’s long-term credit rating by financial service provider Standard and Poor’s, the Satabank scandal, and the Pilatus bank ordeal, which recently saw its chair Ali Sadr being convicted of bank fraud.
He added that in 2019, Malta’s anti-money laundering body, the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit had seen an increase to 2,800 of suspicious activity reports.
The International Monetary Fund had also called for Malta Financial Services Authority's autonomy, de Marco added.
He called for absolute transparency about ongoing international and national discussions and the measures being implemented to address the shortcomings flagged by Moneyval.
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