David Lindsay, 09 June 2021
Earlier this week the Council of Europe’s MONEYVAL published a progress report showing significantly improved ratings for Malta in its fight against money laundering and terrorist financing from a technical perspective. Thursday’s report clearly acknowledged the progress made since Malta’s earlier evaluation, at times doing so quite openly when confirming that, “Malta was among the first MONEYVAL countries to implement the regulatory and institutional framework and conduct assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing risks in this area. Malta’s rating on the implementation of this recommendation has been upgraded from ‘partially compliant’ to ‘largely compliant’.”
The government has undertaken several key reforms in the wake of MONEYVAL’s report two years ago, including the bolstering of Malta’s regulatory authorities, introducing new laws and strengthening the police force’s arm responsible for investigating financial crimes.
A lot of the real work on the ground, however, was down to the different authorities involved in this area, not least the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit. Its Legal Affairs Section went through a lengthy process to bring Malta in line with the onerous requirements of not only the MONEYVAL recommendations but also of the EU’s 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive. “There are a lot of deadlines involved, a lot of challenges and the need to consult with subject persons because these legislative changes will affect them.”
“In fact, every time we propose amendments, whether they directly or indirectly affect subject persons, we carry out extensive consultation exercises with them. But it is even more than that, the consultation is real, and we invite them to provide us with feedback, including possible alternatives to what we may have proposed that are equally workable” Dr Frendo explains.
The purpose behind the exercise, Dr Phyall elaborates, is twofold: “There is the part where you actually want to make them aware that there are changes in the pipeline, and then we also want to see how to actually frame the text of the law to ensure it works.”