Timely exit from FATF grey-list is crucial – President of The Malta Institute of Accountants

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On 7th December 2021, the Malta Institute of Accountants (MIA) organised a physical conference to address the role of professions in Malta’s efforts to exit the FATF’s ‘Grey List`.

Mr David Delicata, the President of the MIA kicked off the conference by explaining how getting Malta out of the ‘Grey List` has been one of the Institute`s priorities for the past months. He noted that the Institute had ‘put forward recommendations, challenged viewpoints, and taken leadership in the development of new legislation and regulation on the subject, including on the enhancement of regulation of the profession, insisting on quality and accountability.’  Mr Delicata emphasised that ‘however, we must stive to find the right balance. Business and entrepreneurship cannot be stifled with over-regulation and excessive bureaucracy.’

Ms Maria Cauchi Delia, CEO of the MIA explained that the MIA has been listening to its members, while also working with different authorities and stakeholders. The MIA`s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) committee has worked with the FIAU on various aspects, including the drafting of the sector-specific Implementing Procedures Part II which are still to be released. Such guidance will provide sector-specific guidance to accountants and auditors in the field of anti-money laundering. Various training and discussion events have been organised together with the FIAU and the MBR to help support practitioners in relation to anti-money laundering obligations. Ms Cauchi Delia remarked that the growth and success of the Maltese jurisdiction was the result of the collective effort of all stakeholders, insisting that “now again it is time for all of us to roll up our sleeves, and take the necessary, decisive action required from our respective ends”.

Presentations and panel discussions centred around beneficial ownership and tax evasion, these being the two key areas on which the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has pushed Malta for further action. Key stakeholders involved in Malta’s efforts to implement the action plan agreed with the FATF noted that a change in mentality is already evident in the efforts being demonstrated over the past few months. Nevertheless, focusing on their respective areas of concern, speakers emphasised the need for increased effectiveness. Practitioners acknowledged the need to ask more questions, with a particular emphasis on asking the right questions.

Dr Helga Buttigieg Debono, Executive Head, National Coordinating Committee on Combating Money Laundering & Funding of Terrorism, explained how the FATF has pushed Malta towards a more effective analysis of intelligence being gathered and the enhancement of investigative, supervisory and enforcement structures by competent authorities, together with the application of proportional sanctions. Dr Geraldine Spiteri Lucas, Registrar of Companies and Chief Executive Officer of the Malta Business Registry, satisfactorily noted that professionals are helping the MBR with identifying the beneficial owners. Mr Marvin Gaerty, Commissioner for Revenue, noted that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to businesses. Mr Kenneth Farrugia, Director, Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit explained that the FIAU is channelling more intelligence to the police, to the CfR and to counterparts abroad. He urged professionals to be vigilant and provide the FIAU with high-quality Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs).

Mr Teitur Már Sveinsson, Senior Advisor in the Ministry of Justice, Chairman of the Steering Committee on Actions against Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Proliferation, and Head of Iceland´s Delegation to the FATF provided an insight into Iceland`s experience in exiting the ‘Grey list`, noting that grey listing results in actions, domestic cooperation and increased awareness, while creating knowledge and experience.

This event was supported by Lexco Compliance Solutions, InScope and Konnekt, and brought together almost 200 professionals.

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