Malta's greylisting by the Financial Action Task Force has been described as a "devastating blow" by employers and led to calls for all stakeholders to come together for the country to be removed from the list in the shortest times possible.
The FATF voted to add Malta to its grey list on Wednesday afternoon.
In a news conference shortly after Times of Malta broke the news, Opposition leader Bernard Grech described the decision as a "punishment for the entire nation" and urged the government to set up a unity task force to limit the greylisting damage.
Prime Minister Robert Abela described the decision as "unjust" and reassured business stakeholders that they need not worry.
Malta Employers' Association
The Malta Employers' Association said the news dealt Malta's economy a "devastating blow".
In a statement it said that, unlike the COVID-19 pandemic, this crisis “is entirely self-inflicted” and the result of “lax and corrupt practices” by a minority of “dishonest politicians and businesses”, compounded with “ineffective governance systems”.
Malta, it said, had been shaken by too many scandals involving senior politicians and politically exposed persons as well as the major institutions. And although the country might have all the governance systems in place, it needed to rebuild the trust of the international community as a reliable and trustworthy business partner.
This greylisting, the MEA said is “unprecedented and humiliating” for Malta.
Institute of Financial Services Practitioners
In another statement, the Institute of Financial Services Practitioners (IFSP) said it is regrettable that, despite the significant progress reported by Moneyval, the FATF has placed Malta on its grey list.
It said Malta is either largely compliant or fully compliant with all 40 of the FATF recommendations showing that the country had made big strides forward in its fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism.
The IFSP said that any outstanding areas of concern will be tackled in an efficient and effective manner with the industry and the authorities each playing their respective part, and that Malta will soon be able to demonstrate that this level of compliance translates into the level of effectiveness the FATF is seeking.
The Malta Chamber called on all key stakeholders in the country to come together, analyse the implications and devise a clear action plan on how to move forward.
The fact that Malta has very recently obtained a positive Moneyval assessment attested that it is technically compliant. It now had to convince the FATF of the effective implementation and enforcement of its recently established rigorous regulatory framework to be removed from the grey list in the shortest time possible.
The Chamber said that the country’s economic wellbeing needed to come first in such a delicate moment, political maturity in a time of crisis is crucial while personal, sectoral and partisan interests had to be secondary.
“The key to turning around this situation is by joining forces to enforce the existing framework and have effective monitoring systems to safeguard our jurisdiction,” it said.