Experts from the Financial Action Task Force will visit Malta next month, Prime Minister Robert Abela has revealed while expressing hope that the country could be off the FATF greylist by June.
Abela was speaking during a campaign event held at the MCAST campus in Paola on Friday.
Assessors from the global anti-money laundering body will carry out a site visit in Malta in April, he said, with the FATF then announcing its decision about Malta’s greylist status during its next plenary session, scheduled for June.
Malta was placed on the FATF greylist in June 2021, with the organisation flagging three key areas that the country needed to address.
Earlier this month, the FATF said that an initial assessment indicated that Malta has addressed all those points on its action plan. Assessors will now visit Malta in person to confirm whether that progress has also been made in practice, on the ground.
An onsite visit is a prerequisite for the FATF to remove a country from the list, which the anti-money laundering body describes as its list of 'jurisdictions under increased monitoring'.
Abela hinted that there was hope that the country could get the result “we are all hoping for” when the FATF’s June assessment is released.
He said he will continue taking a “cautious approach” when speaking about the timelines.
At the heart of Malta’s FATF action plan is an improved commitment to effectively fight tax crimes by using intelligence to catch tax cheats, and better policing of ultimate beneficial ownership rules.
Abela admitted that both Labour and PN administrations had thought greylisting by the FATF was a “threat that could never really happen”.
He said the government had managed in a very short period to implement the 58 recommendations by Moneyval.
The 2019 Moneyval assessment, which was the precursor to Malta’s greylisting, found a raft of failures in the country’s efforts to fight financial crime.