Malta’s efforts to clamp down on money laundering has won Moneyval’s approval, with the nation’s anti-money laundering regime passing a review by the Council of Europe’s committee.
This will come as a major sigh of relief for Malta, which risks being grey-listed by the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF), an intergovernmental organisation to combat money laundering, after failing an initial Moneyval test in 2019.
Several financial experts warned that greylisting would come as a massive blow to Malta’s financial services industry and would discourage foreign direct investment in the country. Although greylisting remains possible, passing the Moneyval test will surely give Malta a major boost.
Moneyval assessed whether Malta had taken its technical and legal recommendations on board since September 2019 and ruled in favour.
Several changes intended to clamp down on money laundering have been implemented since then. Human resources at the police’s financial crimes unit have increased threefold and the entire unit has moved out of the Floriana depot and into a new block in Santa Venera.
Meanwhile, a €10,000 cash limit has been introduced for the sale of property and other valuable items, and designs for a new asset recovery bureau were recently launched.
In June, the FATF will discuss the effectiveness of the anti-money laundering regime, which will include a look at how many people and companies have been prosecuted and how many assets have been confiscated.
A number of high-profile people have been charged with money laundering in Malta recently, including former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri, Nexia BT founder Brian Tonna, Allied Newspapers managing director Michel Rizzo, MFSP owner Matthew Pace, and alleged fuel smuggler Darren Debono.
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