Malta has made “good progress” in implementing an action plan to see it removed from the FATF’s grey list.
Addressing a press conference, FATF president Marcus Pleyer said since Malta’s grey-listing in June, more intelligence had been disseminated to police about potential tax crimes, leading to more tax investigations.
Pleyer said dissuasive fines had also been issued for the filing of incorrect company ownership details with the Malta business registry.
He cautioned that more work remains, as none of the points on Malta’s action plan had been largely addressed in the short time since the country’s grey listing.
Pleyer said the FATF has seen good initial steps from the authorities, encouraging them to address all items in the action plan.
The FATF president announced that Botswana and Mauritius had both been removed from the grey list. Botswana was placed on the grey list in 2018 with Mauritius there since 2020.
Jordan, Mali and Turkey being added to the list of countries with shortfalls in their anti-money laundering regimes.
Pleyer also announced new proposed global standards to close loopholes allowing the use of “fake companies” for criminal activity.
He said the standards seek to ensure that investigators can more quickly found out who the beneficial owner of a company is.
What is Malta’s action plan?
Malta must improve its implementation of three key anti-money laundering issues before it can be taken off a global watchdog’s financial crime grey list.
The three points form part of an action plan that the Maltese government has agreed with the FATF.
All three points must be fully implemented before Malta can be taken off the FATF grey list.
At the heart of that 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.
What are the action plan key points?
1. Showing that ownership information for companies based in Malta is accurate, and that authorities crack down decisively when information about company ownership is found to be inaccurate.
Gatekeepers that do not comply with their obligations to obtain accurate and up-to-date beneficial ownership must be sanctioned.
2. Enhancing the use of financial intelligence by the government's Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit to support authorities pursuing criminal tax and related money laundering cases.
This includes clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the Revenue Commissioner and the FIAU.
3. Focusing FIAU analysis on criminal tax offences, to get it to produce intelligence that helps Maltese law enforcement detect and investigate cases in line with Malta’s identified ML risks related to tax evasion.