The Maltese media is reporting that Malta has been removed from the greylist of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a move that would be a relief to the island country’s financial services and online gambling industries.
The vote to remove Malta from the list came late on Wednesday, and should be announced today (June 17), according to the Times of Malta.
Malta’s status as the only European Union country on the greylist is considered embarrassing, as well as risking its growth in the key financial services and online gambling industries.
Both gambling and financial companies have cited the June 2021 listing as a hindrance to raising funds, a blot on their reputation and a reason for firms to consider leaving the island or not coming in the first place.
An International Monetary Fund report said an FATF greylisting typically means a “significant impact on a country’s capital flows”, averaging a painful -7.6 percent impact on gross domestic product.
VIXIO's Global Regulatory Impact Index has been created to mine insight from the thousands of regulatory data points collected over the last few years to create an evolving analysis of the global regulatory landscape for payments.
But last month, Fitch Ratings affirmed Malta with an A+ credit rating with a “stable” outlook, saying the listing had “as not yet materially affected the Maltese economy, as evidenced by the strong economic recovery and continued strong performance of the large financial sector”.
As of March, countries with “strategic deficiencies” according to FATF included: Albania; Barbados; Burkina Faso; Cambodia; Cayman Islands; Haiti; Jamaica; Jordan; Mali; Morocco; Myanmar; Nicaragua; Pakistan; Panama; Philippines; Senegal; South Sudan; Syria; Turkey; Uganda; United Arab Emirates; and Yemen.
Only North Korea and Iran are on the organisation’s blacklist.
In February, FATF said Malta had “substantially completed its action plan”, with improvements including increased use of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit's (FIAU) services to pursue money laundering and criminal tax cases.
It wanted, however, to make an on-site review.
Malta had been told it needed to reform financial analysis and intelligence tools for serious tax offences and money laundering, improve listings of beneficial ownership and enforce appropriate sanctions of those who supply faulty beneficial ownership information.
On Wednesday night, Prime Minister Robert Abela said he did not want to comment until a decision was announced.
But he did say Malta was committed to the reforms recommended by FATF as steps toward making it a more attractive hub for financial services.
Most executives contacted by VIXIO GamblingCompliance declined to comment, pending confirmation of the news.
The press office for the Maltese government did not respond to a request for comment.
FATF’s only response was to say that the results of the meeting will be published at the end of the day on Friday.