We have done our utmost not to be greylisted - Evarist Bartolo
Says Malta is 'largely compliant' with FATF recommendations
Evarist Bartolo. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier
Malta does not deserve to be greylisted by global money laundering assessors, Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo said on Wednesday.
“I am not a prophet, the process is ongoing, and I am not going to say I think this or that is going to happen. All I know is that we have done our utmost not to be greylisted,” Bartolo said.
He was commenting less than 24 hours after evaluators from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) met in Paris on Tuesday afternoon to decide
on a final recommendation over whether or not Malta should be put on a list of untrustworthy financial jurisdictions.
Play video on original page
Video: Chris Sant Fournier
Times of Malta reported early on Wednesday that the assessors did not reach a unanimous decision on whether or not to recommend Malta be put on a list of countries deemed to not be doing enough to stop international money laundering and financial crime.
The FATF is the leading global anti-money laundering watchdog. Its plenary, made up of delegates from some 200 jurisdictions, will now meet on June 23 to take a final vote on Malta’s future, with local regulators awaiting the final verdict with bated breath.
Speaking with Times of Malta, Bartolo said that Malta had already undergone a rigorous vetting process by the Council of Europe’s MoneyVal experts.
Malta officially passed
that test in April after MoneyVal initially gave the country a failing grade in 2018.
Bartolo said Malta was largely compliant with the FATF recommendations.
“We’ve changed laws, we’ve set up structures, we’ve really done a lot. MoneyVal has concluded that we have become among the first to becoming largely compliant [after the initial scoring]. I do not think we deserve to be greylisted,” he said.
Malta’s fate now largely rests in its ability to lobby FATF member states to look favourably on the island in a secret vote next Wednesday.
Asked if he believes Malta has the necessary support, Bartolo kept his cards close to his chest.
He said he was not in the business of cosmetic surgery and so would not be adding make-up to cover any warts on the jurisdiction.
“What Malta has done is to really address the measures we needed to introduce regarding money laundering, due diligence. The amount of laws we have changed, training, new structures, and I think we have really done a great job,” he said.
Next week’s FATF plenary can either decide to go ahead with greylisting Malta, or it can ask its little brother entity within the Council of Europe to carry out further monitoring of the country.
This monitoring would mean more hand-holding for local regulators but would not cause any major reputational damage to the country that Malta fears could be brought on by greylisting.
The FATF greylist does not imply any specific sanctions, however, it does serve as a warning to the international community that the country is not doing enough to stop major financial crime and, therefore cannot be trusted.
There has never been an EU member state on the grey list before and being placed on it could seriously impact Malta’s ability to do business as well as its attractiveness to foreign investors.
The island has been facing the prospect of potential greylisting since 2018, when the Council of Europe’s so-called MoneyVal experts started reviewing the country’s law enforcement and administrative regime.
The review came as the country was grappling with the fall-out from major corruption scandals that stuck at the heart of government.
Malta had failed an initial review by MoneyVal in 2018 but managed to push that score up to a passing grade
in April of this year.
Since then, experts from the FATF have been taking a long hard look at Malta’s fight on financial crime.
Malta will go into a final decision on whether it should be put on the money laundering naughty list without a clean bill of health next week, after international experts gave mixed reviews on Tuesday.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.