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With a sigh of relief audible around the world of iGaming, Malta has been officially welcomed back in from the cold and finally removed from the so-called money laundering grey list of the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The Mediterranean island was put on the FATF grey–or watch–list last June because it was determined to have “weak measures” for combatting money laundering and financial crime.
Embarrassingly, and especially as Malta is home to hundreds of online gambling companies, it was the first time that an EU member state was put under increased international scrutiny and enhanced monitoring by the FATF for suspected fiscal irregularities.
The island-nation joined Haiti, Jamaica, Myanmar, Pakistan, Panama, South Sudan and Syria on the list of shame.
Malta has been under the judicial and corruption microscope since the assassination of campaigning journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. She was blown up by a car bomb on October 16, 2017, believed to have been planted by state agents.
But today (June 17) in a vote in Germany by the 37 jurisdictions and two regional organisations, the European Commission and the Gulf Cooperation Council, who make up FATF, the George Cross Island was welcomed back into the fold of fiscal respectability.
After being placed on the FATF grey list Malta was given an action plan to strengthen its anti-money laundering and funding of terrorism (AML/CFT) framework.
This February FATF said Malta had substantially completed its action plan and was ready for an on-site assessment by investigators, which was conducted in April, leading to today’s positive outcome.
Meantime, the regulatory Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and the Financial Crime Investigation Department of the Maltese police force, have also tightened their oversight of alleged and potential money laundering.
Jason Farrugia, the MGA’s former Chief Technology Officer, fired in disgrace, recently appeared in court, alongside his wife, Christine, on money laundering charges.