Gibraltar likely to carry out new on-site reviews after FATF grey listing

Gibraltar has been added to the FATF
Gibraltar has been added to the FATF

Gibraltar’s gambling commissioner has ruled out tougher fines but will need to conduct new on-site reviews.

Gibraltar.- The anti-money laundering watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force, removed one igaming hub from its grey list this month, but it added another. Malta was removed from the list after 12 months following a series of reforms on the island, but the FATF added another major European igaming centre – the British overseas territory of Gibraltar.

Gibraltar’s gambling commissioner, Andrew Lyman, has expressed surprise at Gibraltar’s inclusion on the list. But despite FATF chair Marcus Pleyner saying that one cause was failures to apply sufficient anti-money laundering fines, Lyman says the regulator won’t toughen its standards for fines.

Lyman said Gibraltar had already been proactive in taking action against money laundering, noting that the gambling commission has reached six regulatory settlements with five operators, for a combined £3.7m, since 2020.

He said that if those cases were not considered to be “tangible progress,” the FATF had provided no criteria on what would be deemed sufficient. He also stressed that the regulator would not be changing its standards in any way.

Lyman said: “What we will not do is artificially adapt our standards to accommodate enforcement cases. That is not the Gibraltar way. I do not believe for one moment that the FATF are asking us to. I do not see the objective as imposing more sanctions per se, but proving out the overall effectiveness of our regime and imposing sanctions where necessary and in a proportionate manner.”

The regulator will, however, have to conduct new onsite reviews of operators to meet FATF standards.

Lyman said: “We have to prove that our regime is robust. Something we must accept we did not manage to achieve in the current round. We must assault the summit again. In order to achieve this, it will be necessary to continue our supervisory programme as well as to bring forward some on-site visits which may not have been anticipated until a later date.”

Lyman said he was “highly committed” to getting Gibraltar removed from the list “in the fastest time possible”, noting that the action plan received from the FATF was brief, containing only two points. He said that Gibraltar had no “fundamental, systemic anti-money laundering (AML) or terrorist financing weaknesses” and was “in many respects a flagship jurisdiction”.

Last year, Lyman expressed hopes that Gibraltar would remain a major hub for gaming following the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Gibraltar publishes draft legislation to replace 2005 Gambling Act

Earlier this month, Gibraltar published proposed new gambling legislation for consultation. Under the draft Gambling Act, which is intended to replace the Gambling Act 2005, licensees would need to have a local presence on the rock and meet certain threshold criteria.

Gibraltar has promoted itself as a hub for gaming operations in Europe but it is looking to introduce new legislation in a bid to preserve confidence in the sector and the territory’s reputation. Licensing and regulatory bodies will remain separate within the minister for finance responsible for licensing, however there will be more categories and new activities that require licensing.

Licensees will need to meet threshold conditions relating to business conduct, owner suitability, responsible gambling and the prevention of crime as well as the location of offices.

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