Malta on Thursday received a reasoned opinion from the European Commission for failing to transpose the fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive into national law.

EU member states had until June 26 last year to transpose the directive into national legislation.

The directive:

• strengthens the risk assessment obligation for banks, lawyers, and accountants;

• sets clear transparency requirements about beneficial ownership for companies;

• facilitates cooperation and exchange of information between Financial Intelligence Units from different member states to identify and follow suspicious transfers of money to prevent and detect money laundering or terrorist financing;

• establishes a coherent policy towards non-EU countries that had deficient anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing rules;

• reinforces the sanctioning powers of competent authorities.

In the wake of the Panama Papers revelations and the terrorist attacks in Europe, the Commission proposed a fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive to further step up the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

These new rules aimed at ensuring a high level of safeguards for financial flows from high-risk third countries, enhancing the access of financial intelligence units to information, creating centralised bank account registers, and tackling terrorist financing risks linked to virtual currencies and pre-paid cards.

These new rules entered into force on July 9. Member states will have to transpose the directive into national legislation by January 10, 2020.

Read: Malta gets an anti-money laundering strategy

Government welcomes suggestions to further improve text of national law

In a statement, the government took note of the opinion and said the Prevention of Money Laundering Act was meant to transpose all the provisions of the directive.

This was done at the end of 2017, with the ancillary legal notices published in January.

It said it welcomed the suggestions to further improve the text used in the transposition of the directive.

In the spirit of collaboration, it said, Maltese legal officials would engage in technical discussions with the Commission’s legal team to explain the reasons and justification of Malta’s legislation and make any corrections which might be required.

“The government of Malta remains committed to continue strengthening the work it has already undertaken concerning the strengthening of institutions, combating money laundering, and fighting international tax avoidance,” it said.

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