Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Malta’s anti-money laundering regime had failed a final review

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Moneyval experts were “not convinced” that Malta effectively investigates and prosecutes high-level money laundering, bribery, and corruption cases, viewed as one of the island’s main shortcomings.

A draft version of the assessment of Malta’s anti-money laundering regime, seen by The Sunday Times of Malta, paints a dim picture of the country’s ability to fight major financial crime.  

“Limited resources, both human and financial, allocated to the investigation and prosecution of money laundering weighs negatively on Malta’s capability to effectively fight it,” the 230-page report reads.  

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Last month, Times of Malta reported that Malta’s anti-money laundering regime had failed a final review by international experts from the Council of Europe and had been given a year to get its house in order or face potential blacklisting procedures.

Related: Malta fails its first Moneyval anti-money laundering test

The final document will be published next month, but a draft version gives a clear indication of the various shortcomings flagged by the panel.  

The police did not have the resources or the know-how to adequately investigate and prosecute major financial crime. The FIAU, which gathers intelligence on such crimes, was also hamstrung by various deficiencies, and while regulatory bodies had systems in place, there had been “instances” which raised concerns.  

Ultimately the powers-that-be did not seem to view fighting money laundering as a priority, the draft document reads.

It was the country’s inability to effectively deal with these crimes which “could create within the wider public the perception that there may exist a culture of inactivity or impunity,” the experts warned.

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