Tuesday, January 26, 2021

EU push Malta to prosecute more money laundering cases

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A monitoring body for the Council of Europe’s Convention on money laundering and crime has called upon Malta to apply its monitoring measures more frequently and to prosecute the cases.

The Council of Europe said Malta had already implemented most legal provisions that establish sufficient power to obtain information on account holders, including the beneficial owner, and to obtain the “historic” banking information.

The legislative measures are also sufficient to prevent the disclosure of the information related to the investigation or monitoring order.

But the statistics provided by the Maltese authorities indicated that the powers provided for in the Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism (CETS) are not being used regularly in investigations of proceeds generating crimes and that no monitoring orders have been issued by the courts.

“The Maltese authorities are encouraged to further raise awareness of the practical possibilities for law enforcement of these powers,” the Council of Europe said.

The follow up report discussed and adopted in 2018 confirmed that over the period 2015-2018 no monitoring orders were issued but that law enforcement received training on how to use this instrument. “Malta is invited to apply monitoring measures more frequently and develop cases on its implementation,” the Council of Europe said.

The 2014 assessment report on Malta noted that monitoring of banking operations could be performed based on a monitoring order. The Attorney General must request approval by the Criminal Court for a monitoring order in case of suspicion that there is a money laundering offence. Based on such an order, the banks are required to monitor, for a specific period, transactions or banking operations that are being carried out through one or more accounts. The accounts monitored can be of a specific suspect, can be suspected of being used in commission of a criminal offence or can provide information about the offence or about the circumstances of an offence.

The FIAU was also found to make regular use of monitoring orders on transactions suspected to involve money laundering, or property derived from proceeds of criminal activity or from acts of participation in criminal activity.

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