A total of 271 suspicious financial transactions were filed by entities in Malta in 2015, figures released today show.

Entities were obliged to report suspicious transactions ranging from banks to lawyers and notaries, and from real estate agents to casinos. Malta submitted 90 reports from the non-financial sector and 181 from the financial sector. The majority of complaints - 136 - came from banks. 

A total of 701,957 reports on suspicious financial transactions were made in the European Union in 2015.

The information was included in a eport released by the European Commission to coincide with the coming into force today of the the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

The directive strengthens existing rules and will make the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing more effective. It also improves transparency to prevent tax avoidance.

Discussions with the European Parliament and the Council on extra measures further reinforcing the directive are already at an advanced stage, the European Commission said.

I also call for quick agreement on the further revisions proposed by the Commission following the Panama Papers to increase transparency of beneficial ownership

As required by the new directive, the Commission assessed the money laundering and terrorist financing risks of different sectors and financial products across 22 member states. It identified 40 products or services that are considered potentially vulnerable to money-laundering and terrorism financing risks at the level of the internal market.

“Terrorists and criminals still find ways to finance their activities and to launder illicit gains back into the economy. The new rules as of today are crucial to closing further loopholes. I urge all member states to put them in place without delay: lower standards in one country will weaken the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing across the EU. I also call for quick agreement on the further revisions proposed by the Commission following the Panama Papers to increase transparency of beneficial ownership," VÄ›ra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said.

The Fourth Anti-Money Laundering reinforces the existing rules by introducing the following changes:
• reinforcing the risk assessment obligation for banks, lawyers, and accountants;
• setting clear transparency requirements about beneficial ownership for companies. This information will be stored in a central register, such as commercial registers, and will be available to national authorities and obliged entities
• facilitating 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 crime or terrorist activities;
• establishing a coherent policy towards non-EU countries that have deficient anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing rules;
• reinforcing the sanctioning powers of competent authorities.

If approved, these [powers] would be boosted, enabling a Financial Intelligence Unit to request information from an 'obliged entity' – without the need for a prior suspicious transaction report.

In July 2016, the Commission proposed further measures, which would increase transparency about who really owns companies and trusts. It is now waiting for the European Parliament and the Council to finalise the legislative work as soon as possible.

Member states should have notified the transposition of the directive by today. The European Commission will now check the state of the transposition and follow up swiftly with member states in case they have not taken the necessary measures yet.

The directive also increased the powers of EU Financial Intelligence Units and their capacity to cooperate. If approved, these would be boosted, enabling an FIU to request information from an 'obliged entity' – without the need for a prior suspicious transaction report.

FIUs would also have access to information in member states' centralised bank and payment account registers and central data retrieval systems, as well as information from virtual currency exchange platforms and custodian wallet providers.