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Malta Placed On Financial Action Task Force ‘Gray List’

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This decision by the Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental anti-money laundering body, is a first for a European country. A unique thing for a European country. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), made up of 37 countries and two regional organizations, voted at its last plenary session in favor of adding Malta to its “gray list”, said Robert Abela, the Prime Minister. of the Mediterranean archipelago, during a press conference.

Prime Minister Robert Abela said he thought the decision was “unjust” and promised to push ahead with planned reforms aimed at tackling financial wrongdoing. Although the FATF has not formally announced the decision, Abela confirmed the move after news broke on local media.

“While I consider this decision unjust, we will continue the reform process because we are acting with conviction and believe in good governance,” he told a hastily convened news conference.

“We remain committed to making whatever reforms are needed while preserving the national interest. We will never be uncooperative or obstructive but will intensify our resolve to fight money laundering and the financing of international terrorism.”

FATF made its move after years of international criticism of Maltese policy making, including the sale of national passports, as well as a lack of legal action against government officials who were mentioned in the Panama Papers as having set up secret offshore companies.

Opposition leader Bernard Grech called the FAFT vote a “national punishment”, which could damage the country’s fast-growing financial and gaming sectors that account for almost a fifth of the economy.

Abela introduced a raft of reforms after becoming prime minister in January 2020, including appointing a new police commissioner and beefing up the Financial Intelligence and Analysis Unit, the body charged with fighting financial crime.

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