[WATCH] Finance Minister in Germany as Malta lobbies hard to avoid FATF grey list

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana in Germany ahead of crucial FATF meeting that will decide Malta's fate • Caruana says Malta does not deserve to be on the grey list

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana
Finance Minister Clyde Caruana

Clyde Caruana says Malta has carried out all recommendations by Moneyval and does not deserve to be grey-listed in comments before departing for Germany on Thursday.

The Finance Minister's visit in Germany is part of efforts by the Maltese government to convince members of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) not to grey-list the country after having passed the Moneyval test earlier this year.

In comments with TVM's Xtra, which will be broadcast tonight, Caruana suggested that indications received from certain countries, which he refused to name, were that Malta could indeed be grey-listed. The international body is expected to make its decision on 23 June.

“These countries want to set an example by using Malta. This differs from the opinion of the majority of countries which have reacted positively to the changes we have carried out,” Caruana said. “Common sense says that if Malta passed the Moneyval test, it would be able to pass the FATF’s evaluation.”

On Tuesday, Malta endured a review of its anti-money laundering rules and protocols by the FATF after tough weeks of questioning by international assessors. However, it seems that the positive outcome of the Moneyval test was not enough to sway the opinions of some countries.

It is understood that Malta has faced resistance from the US, the UK and Germany at the FATF, where the final verdict is made.

'Grech's letter says Malta should be grey-listed'

On Wednesday, the leader of the Opposition Bernard Grech wrote to the FATF to assure them that as an alternative government his party would restore Malta’s international reputation and implement all recommendations.

“This is a matter of national importance that can negatively impact the financial services industry and the gaming sector among others. The political responsibility for this falls squarely on the Labour government. It needs a change in mentality and not an exercise of ticking boxes as Robert Abela has said,” Grech said.

Reacting to Grech's letter, the Finance Minister said that he hoped its author “was not familiar with the process” or had made a mistake.

“The last paragraph effectively says Malta should be grey-listed. I hope that whoever wrote it made a mistake,” he said. “As finance minister, and someone who knows how the process works, that letter worries me.”

Asked what it would mean should Malta be grey-listed, Caruana said that he would not speculate about the future. “We only have a few days until the decision is taken, together with my team, we will work to ensure that Malta passes this test,” Caruana said.

The Maltese government is lobbying hard to avoid grey-listing, which could be very detrimental for the financial services and gaming sectors.

READ ALSO: Political interference in FATF verdict could open Pandora’s box, Clyde Caruana warns