Malta will be assessed by the FATF next month, with a decision on the island's "grey list" status expected in June.
Malta's Prime Minister, Robert Abela, has expressed his hope that the island will be removed from the grey list on the first anniversary of its downgrading.
FATF made the initial determination at its Plenary last month that Malta has substantially completed its action plan and that an on-site visit is warranted to verify that the implementation of Malta's AML/CFT reforms has begun and is being sustained.
The island was placed on the FATF grey list in June 2021 after the organization stated that the country needed to address three major issues.
Malta had addressed all of the items on its action plan, according to a preliminary assessment released earlier this month by the FATF.
According to the Times of Malta, FATF assessment team members will visit Malta in April to confirm this progress.
Prime Minister Abela said it is possible the country will get the results "we are all hoping for" when the FATF's June assessment is released.
He did say, however, that he would continue to be "cautious" about timelines.
Malta made a high-level political commitment in June to work with the FATF and MONEYVAL to improve the effectiveness of its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regime.
The task force found the necessary political commitment to make recommended changes to the island's AML processes during its plenary session last month.
Malta, according to the agency, has implemented the following key reforms:
- Continuing to demonstrate that beneficial ownership information is accurate and effective, proportionate, and dissuasive sanctions are applied to legal persons if information provided is found to be inaccurate; and ensuring that gatekeepers are subjected to effective, proportionate, and dissuasive sanctions when they fail to comply with their obligations to obtain accurate and up-to-date beneficial ownership information.
- Improving the use of the FIU's financial intelligence to assist authorities pursuing criminal tax and money laundering cases, including clarifying the Commissioner of Revenue's and the FIU's roles and responsibilities.
- Shifting the FIU's analysis to these types of offenses, in order to generate intelligence that aids Maltese law enforcement in detecting and investigating cases in line with Malta's identified ML risks related to tax evasion.
The task force stated after the Plenary that it would continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and conduct an on-site visit as soon as possible, which appears to be next month.
By fLEXI tEAM