International money laundering body Moneyval has urged Malta to do more to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism, placing the island under “enhanced follow-up procedures”.
In an in-depth report, Moneyval warned that limited financial and human resources in the police force weigh negatively on Malta’s capability to effectively fight money laundering.
“Money laundering investigations and procedures don’t appear to be in line with the country’s risk profile and the growing size and complexity of its financial sector,” it said. “The assessment team isn’t convinced that the law enforcement authorities are in a position to effectively and in a timely manner investigate and prosecute high-level and complex money laundering cases related to financial, bribery and corruption offences.”
“While Malta was in principle able to provide examples of convictions for most of the different types of money laundering, cases of stand-alone money laundering are very rare and no recent case was presented in relation to professionals of the financial sector,” the report continued.
“Based on the few convictions, the sanctions applied against natural persons appear to be dissuasive. Malta has not yet achieved convictions for money laundering concerning legal persons.”
Moneyval also warned that Malta’s supervisory authorities lack the adequate resources to conduct risk-based supervision for the private sector and that the country is lacking an in-depth analysis of how all types of legal persons and legal arrangements can be misused for money laundering and financing of terrorism purposes.
In a statement, the Maltese government said it welcomed Moneyval’s report and that is committed to implementing its 58 recommendations.
“Each Moneyval recommendation will be entrusted to a competent institution, with a proposed set of actions in respect of each recommendation, a time frame for implementation, the resource requirements, including support and expertise, and, where required, an appointed project leader,” it said. “Malta is deeply committed to helping combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and we welcome recognition of our efforts so far.
AML/CFT are serious, transnational issues that require cross-border collaboration. We are determined to commit even more resources towards strengthening our institutions, regulators and law enforcement agencies, to aid in this mission.”