The government has given its assurance that it will soon implement the EU’s new anti-money laundering rules, as Malta faces infringement procedures later this month if it fails to do so.

The fifth anti-money laundering directive, the latest set of rules designed to cut down on financial crime in Europe, should have been transposed into national law by January 10.

Sources in Brussels said the European Commission was still waiting for the Maltese authorities to provide it with information. Further delay could put Malta on a list of countries facing infringement procedures over its failure to transpose the directive.

One source said the commission appeared to have understood there could be some delays due to the political developments in the country over the past few months, but this was no longer deemed a valid reason for the delay.

In 2017, the government’s failure to implement the previous anti-money laundering directive had prompted the commission to trigger the first stage of infringement proceedings.

Relevant legal notices will be published in the coming week

Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis has said the commission is “committed to working on an efficient and ambitious supervisory architecture to tackle money laundering”.

“These are vital rules to ensure the integrity of the Union financial system. But I am concerned that a few member states haven’t yet transposed them,” he said.

“There are no two ways about it: these rules must be implemented in full and in a timely way. So, we must lose no time: I will propose to initiate infringement proceedings against those countries lagging behind, as early as in February.”

In reply to questions, the government said: “The main Act which transposes the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive has been enacted and it was published in The Government Gazette.

“Subsequent to the publication of the main Act, four legal notices will be published to fully transpose the directive in its entirety. Malta will be one of the few member states to fully transpose this directive.”

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said the relevant legal notices will be published in the coming week. The committee stage of the Bill, he added, had to be postponed in December due to the non-participation of the Opposition.

The PN was at the time boycotting parliament amid Malta’s political crisis.