Over €11 million in administrative fines were handed out in 2021, according to Malta's Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit.
The FIAU reported in its 2021 annual report that 7,218 suspicious reports were submitted by subject persons, a significant increase of more than 2,000 from the previous year.
The FIAU reported that 8,443 intelligence reports were shared, an increase of 86% over the prior year, with counterpart FIUs and national and international competent authorities.
Along with more than 400 other disseminations of additional intelligence reports and spontaneous intelligence reports, the body also provided the Maltese police with over 70 analytical reports that contained "reasonable suspicion of ML/TF."
According to the FIAU, "these results clearly show that although 2021 was a very challenging year, the team at the FIAU continued to work relentlessly to improve its operations."
In light of Malta's grey listing by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in 2021 and Moneyval recommendations, the FIAU claimed to have been "working tirelessly."
Implementing all of MONEYVAL's recommendations took up the first half of 2021 and required "intense work." Due to "three effectiveness issues out of the original 58 had not been fully addressed," according to the FIAU, Malta was grey listed by FATF at the June 2021 plenary, despite its efforts.
These addressed the need for the FIAU to focus more on serious tax offenses and related money laundering, as well as the identification of accurate beneficial ownership information and the imposition of "effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions in cases of non-compliance."
In order to "increase effectiveness in the three areas of concern and to put Malta firmly on track to be considered for delisting within the shortest period of time possible," the FATF's prescribed action plan was put into action in the second half of 2021.
"Despite the FATF June plenary outcome," the FIAU stated that "2021 was nevertheless considered a successful year with a number of significant achievements and improvements having taken place to further improve Malta’s AML/CFT framework."
The organization acknowledged investing in FIAU technology, including advancing the FIAU's IT operating system for submitting STRs, even as the number of employees increased from 98 in 2020 to 115 in 2017.
"The year under review proved to be another challenging one for the FIAU," according to FIAU Director Kenneth Farrugia's welcome note.
He commended the FIAU for making an effort to implement all 58 MONEYVAL recommendations, noting that "this was done with the added difficulties and operational constraints presented by the pandemic."
Following the FATF's June 2022 plenary meeting, Malta was this week removed from the organization's "grey list."
By fLEXI tEAM