FATF to conduct on-site visit by June, Robert Abela appeals for caution

Financial Action Task Force declared Malta has substantially completed its action plan to get out of greylist

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela

The Financial Action Task Force will be conducting an on-site visit in Malta by the first half of the year, following its declaration that Malta had substantially completed its action plan to get off the FATF greylist.

In a press conference on Saturday morning, Prime Minister Robert Abela said the decision by the FATF to visit Malta in June was a result of reforms on a technical level, and appealed for caution.

On Friday the FATF determined that Malta had substantially completed its action plan, warranting an on-site visit to verify that reforms have begun. 

The FATF listed key reforms made by Malta since then, including demonstrating that beneficial ownership information was accurate, and that proper sanctions were being applied to gatekeepers when they do not comply with obligations to obtain accurate and up-to-date beneficial ownership information. 

Asked when it was expected that Malta be removed from the greylist, Abela said: “I will continue to exercise caution and therefore speaking of a time-frame, like the Opposition leader did, is uncalled for and risky.” 

“We worked on what was needed to be done, in coordination with FATF and through dialogue. This news means that more foreign investment will be attracted to Malta,” Abela said.

“Technical experts will continue working independently and in silence. We had a plan and we implemented it in an efficient way.”

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana said that individuals in the financial sector had welcomed the news with delight, and that the government will keep doing its best to what is asked of it by the FATF body. “I was always convinced that eventually the assessors would recognise Malta’s commitment to satisfying the criteria imposed by the FATF,” Caruana said. 

Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech welcomed the news, but said Malta’s greylisting had already given Malta a bad reputation.

“It’s an ugly chapter that must be closed as early as possible. Indeed, it’s a chapter that should have never been opened, and one that nobody could have ever dreamt of years ago.

“The greylist’s damage to our country will be endured for years to come because Malta is seen to be a dubious jurisdiction, for any investment to and from our country must be passed through enhanced due dilegence.”

Grech said a new PN government would make Malta’s delisting and subsequent reputational build-up its main priority. “We need a clear vision for years to come to rebuild Malta’s reputation,” he said.

In a statement, the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry welcomed the news and urged the relevant authorities and all private sector stakeholders, to remain committed to the process so that Malta will exit the greylist in the coming months.

“The Malta Chamber will continue to facilitate dialogue and collaboration between all parties concerned so that systems and procedures are optimised, and high standards and good practices can be sustainably maintained. This is imperative for Malta's reputation as a financial jurisdiction to be restored.”