The government is optimistic that Malta will be taken off the Financial Action Task Force grey list as early as June but insiders say the country must still convince international assessors it will not let standards slide.
Greylisting assessors travelled to Malta this week to meet government officials before deciding whether to take the island off its list of untrustworthy jurisdictions.
Sources working on the government’s bid to get Malta off the grey list of murky financial jurisdictions said the panel of experts from the FATF seemed positive about the country’s efforts.
The FATF team met a special team of Maltese officials to decide if enough has been done to merit the island being taken off the grey list.
Members of the global anti-money laundering watchdog had voted to add Malta to its grey list in June 2021 after deciding the country was not doing enough to combat financial crime.
Since then, the government has been scrambling to address shortcomings, particularly in information sharing and issues of tax evasion.
Last month, the FATF publicly announced that initial indications showed Malta had substantially completed its action plan which is intended to get the country removed from the grey list.
In its most recent plenary session, the FATF said that Malta appeared to have addressed most of the shortcomings and had taken all the necessary steps to strategically address the recommendations made.
The onsite visit this week will decide if Malta has put these reforms into action.
The next plenary session that could see Malta removed from the list is set to be held in June.
Sources told Times of Malta that one of the main challenges, even after June, is to convince assessors that Malta is committed to keeping up the current rhythm of reforms.
The assessors, the sources said, will have to decide whether Malta will resist the temptation to start easing off on anti-financial crime measures introduced in recent months.
“We have to show the FATF, as we have been doing, that we mean business and will continue in this path,” one source said.
“So, even if Malta is taken off the grey list in June, we will still be on the FATF’s radar and could be placed back on the list in follow-up assessments which will be carried out in the months ahead.”
This, the source added, was why it was important not to let standards slide and “return to bad practices”.