Malta has 'months of hard work' left in the run-up to Moneyval

Government has already received a draft Moneyval report, but the final conclusions won't come in until around June this year

Photo: Partit Laburista
Photo: Partit Laburista

Prime Minister Robert Abela is warning the financial services sector that Malta is in a crucial stage relating to the Moneyval assessment, with two or three months left of hard work to ensure Malta is no longer grey-listed.

During a political activity on Sunday, Abela confirmed that government has received a draft Moneyval report, with its conclusions being analysed by technical experts. However, he insisted that work on anti-money laundering (AML) and terrorism financing must continue beyond receiving the final report.

"All that led to our country receiving that report, must not happen again [...] After June, we need to continue with thought-out changes for the AML and anti-terrorism financing sector so we ensure not only that we will never have a negative evaluation but that our country will operate in the way other EU Member States do," he said.

According to Abela, some stakeholders described the introduction of new regulations as a culture shock - a sentiment Abela doesn't necessarily agree with.

"We carred out changes in AML and terrorism financing, and in all areas suggested to us in Moneyval and by the Venice Commission, and created a regulatory structure whereby the financial sector can work in a way that protects themselves and the industry."

Abela described this as a template that will prevent a situation whereby the Moneyval period passes by and Malta retreats back to the previous situation.

"We will continue this process of change so that what happened in the 2018 report doesn't happen again," he asserted. "Never again should we go back to 2012, where we had structural deficiencies in regulation that were ignored. This was a fundamental error."

Abela was later prompted on recent revelations surrounding Keith Schembri, the former chief of staff to Abela's predecessor Joseph Muscat. He said that the past eight years of Labour's administration is not a chapter that needs to be closed, instead reiterating that he is proud of that administration and the wealth it created.

However, Abela said that actions taken in the past year show that rule of law deficiencies are in itself a closed chapter that won't happen again.

"[Keith] Schembri was one of the 11 people who, last Saturday, were arraigned in court. This shows that the prosecution and institutions are working."

Abela reiterated that his primary message to all institutions is to carry out their work, and where there are individuals reponsible for certain deficiencies, they must be investigated. In turn, if those investigations lead to court procedures, those procedures must be taken.