Germany’s Finance Minister agrees with Malta’s plan to get whitelisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a confident-sounding Robert Abela said today.
Robert Abela said he discussed the FATF vote with Olaf Scholz at a conference of the Party of European Socialists group in Berlin over the weekend.
“The things he told me, and the things we plan to do in the coming days and weeks to address the FATF’s action points are completely in sync,” he said.
Scholz’s endorsement would be significant because Germany, along with the USA and the UK, was one of three major countries which had insisted with the FATF that Malta should get greylisted.
Interviewed on ONE Radio this morning, Abela said he is confident Malta can return to the FATF white list in a short period of time, noting that it had implemented 55 of 58 action points proposed by Moneyval in just under two years.
“It would normally have been impossible to implement all of these action points in such a short span of time but we didn’t allow ourselves to lose heart and we managed to implement 55 of them… Moneyval gave us a certificate of excellence a few weeks ago.”
“We must now implement three more points to increase our effectiveness. We must work seriously and professionally to convince others that our reforms aren’t only on paper but are effective too.”
Abela said he was annoyed by rumblings locally that the government would react to the greylisting by coming down strongly on legitimate businesses to the point that it would be impossible for them to operate.
“The FATF action plan on money laundering didn’t talk about legitimate businesses. It didn’t say we have to carry out a witch hunt on businesses or destroy legitimate businesses, but that was the spin which was given.”
“I know people were whispering under the table that the government will now destroy businesses. We’ve stayed behind businesses through these tough months [of the COVID-19 pandemic] so are we going to stop incentivising them now?”
“Our vision is to strengthen legitimate businesses and workers, keep incentivising them through the pandemic, and implement reforms to improve our jurisdiction and make it more attractive.”
“The moment we obtain the FATF seal of approval, Malta will become a more attractive jurisdiction so long as we manage to solve this challenge in a short span of time. We’re determined to do so and work together with the FATF, something I made this clear in my discussions with German vie chancellor.”
“We must also improve our diplomatic relations. We definitely won’t stamp our feet or act as though it’s business as usual; we will take this message seriously and show everyone that we are an EU member state that is committed to good governance and fighting financial crime and terrorism funding.”