Malta on the warpath as ‘three countries’ push for FATF grey-list
Over twenty countries are backing Malta to not be grey-listed at the FATF following a shake-up of the financial and legal frameworks over the past 18 months, however it is believed three countries are pushing for the country to be grey-listed.
It is understood that despite the clean bill of health from the Council of Europe’s Moneyval, with zero cases of non-compliances, the technical aspect is being sidelined for a more political approach against Malta. The mere mention of a grey-list against a country which is complying with all of Moneyval’s technical assessment is unprecedented, sources told The Malta Independent.
Should Malta be grey-listed it would be the first European member state to fall under the FATF’s jurisdictions under increased monitoring, also known as the grey-list.
Malta enters the FATF with three ‘low level of effectiveness’ points at FATF level and zero non-compliances. Sources told this newspaper that in those three areas progress has been achieved and acknowledged. This would rank Malta among the harshest treated countries at FATF, since usually a grey-listed country has a considerable number of ‘low level of effectiveness’ or non-compliance ratings.
Iceland, the only European country to be grey-listed, had six ‘low levels of effectiveness’ and two non-compliances at technical level when it was grey listed.
The United States itself has four non-compliances at technical level yet it is not grey listed. According to sources, Malta has a fraction of these indiscretions.
This imbalance in treatment was quickly picked up by representatives of the Maltese Government over the course of Wednesday, with Finance Minister Clyde Caruana saying that ‘if logical sense is followed, the country will pass from this exercise, yet if it is polluted with ulterior political motives then nobody knows what will happen’.
Caruana added that as other countries look at their national interest, Malta will be looking at its own national interest and the interest of the Maltese people.
It is believed that “up to three countries”, believed to be the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany, out of 39 FATF members have been pressuring other members of the FATF to minimize their support for Malta, or to abstain from voicing support, with such states openly admitting to Maltese diplomats that they are being put in a corner by these other countries.
Sources told this newspaper that a review of partnerships, co-operation on a number of different fora and mutual solidarity practices between Malta and these countries which are pushing for a grey-list have been prepared by the Foreign and European Ministry and the Finance Ministry. These include withdrawal of Maltese support on a number of European initiatives where unanimous voting is needed.