Bilyonaryo - Money

Money laundering watchdog removes Malta from watchlist

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international organisation that coordinates global efforts to crack down on money laundering and terrorism financing, said Friday it had removed Malta from its watchlist of countries subject to increased monitoring.

Placed on watch in 2021, Malta is coming off the list after carrying out an “action plan which it has now completed” leaving it “better placed to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing”, Marcus Pleyer, president of the FATF, said after a four-day meeting of the organisation in Berlin.

Malta has especially made progress in the detection of inaccurate company ownership information and “the pursuit of tax-based money laundering cases utilising financial intelligence”, the FATF said in a statement.

Malta, which has for years fought accusations of being a tax haven, was dealt another reputational blow last year when it was added to the list.

In 2017, more than a dozen European media organisations in an investigation dubbed the “Malta Files” accused the country of being a “pirate base for tax avoidance inside the EU” — allegations Malta denied.

Gibraltar, meanwhile, was added to the grey list over what Pleyer described as “tragic deficiencies”.

“Gibraltar needs to take a number of steps including focusing on gatekeepers to the financial system, in particular gambling operators and lawyers,” he said.

The British overseas territory will need to show progress by “demonstrating that it is more actively and successfully pursuing final confiscation judgements, through criminal or civil proceedings based on financial investigations”, the FATF said.

There are 23 countries on the FATF grey list in total, which can have a serious impact upon foreign investment into countries and their international reputation.

The organisation’s black list includes only two countries, Iran and North Korea.

Pakistan, which had hoped to be removed from the grey list at the Berlin meeting, was left disappointed.

However, the FATF welcomed progress made by Pakistan and hinted at a change in status if its next monitoring visit is successful.

“After a lot of work by the Pakistani authorities” the country has “largely addressed all 34 action items” in a plan agreed with the organisation, Pleyer said.

“Pakistan has demonstrated that it is now pursuing terrorist financing investigations and prosecutions against senior leaders of UN-designated terrorist groups and pursuing money laundering investigations and prosecutions in line with its risk profile,” he added. — Agence France-Presse