A confidential Moneyval report that will assess Malta’s efforts to step up its fight against money laundering will be handed to the government later this month.
Government sources confirmed they were waiting for a report from the Council of Europe’s Moneyval experts that will review the country’s efforts to avoid being put on a list on non-compliant jurisdictions.
The report will be sent this month to the national coordination centre set up by the government to improve the country’s law enforcement and administrative performance following a dismal Moneyval review back in 2019.
Two years ago, Malta failed an exhaustive test of its anti-money laundering regime and now risks being put on a list of untrustworthy countries, better known as the ‘grey list’.
Since then, the government has enacted a raft of reforms and personnel changes across a number of watchdogs, from reforming the police’s economic crimes unit to investing in additional resources for the financial services authority.
Once the report is delivered, Malta will have until the summer to finish implementing further changes
Even the FIAU was handed more powers over the summer. A final progress report was sent to the Moneyval experts by Malta in October 2020.
Moneyval will now give its feedback in the confidential report which will detail whether the country’s efforts have met the Council of Europe’s expectations.
Once the report is delivered, Malta will have until the summer to finish implementing further changes before Moneyval’s final position is delivered.
Moneyval’s final position, however, is not the last stage in the process.
The decision on whether or not Malta is greylisted will actually be taken by another body, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moneyval’s international big brother.
Malta will begin engaging with the FATF later this month, with a team expected to visit Malta for in-depth meetings in April.
The task force will be the body to ultimately decide if Malta is put on the money laundering ‘naughty’ list, but it will factor in Moneyval’s final position.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Robert Abela said he was confident the country was on track to avoid the greylisting.
The current grey list includes Albania, the Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Cambodia, Ghana, Iceland, Jamaica, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe. There has never been an EU member state on the grey list.
Being put on the grey list comes with a strict reform procedure and ‘hand-holding’ by global authorities.
The grey list does not imply any economic sanctions but serves as a signal to the global financial and banking system about heightened risks from transactions with the country in question.