The igaming hub of Malta has been put on the FATF’s grey list of untrustworthy jurisdictions due to failings on anti-money laundering measures.
Malta.- One of the world’s biggest hubs for igaming has received a serious blow to its reputation after the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) placed Malta on its “grey list” of untrustworthy jurisdictions.
Malta joins 19 other countries, which include Panama, Myanmar, Syria and Zimbabwe, on a list that has been shown by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to cause investors to shy away, resulting in a significant fall in capital inﬂows.
Maltese opposition leader Bernard Grech branded the decision a “national punishment”, warning that it could seriously harm Malta’s growing finance and gaming sectors.
Speaking at a quickly convened press conference, Malta’s prime minister Robert Abela said the FATF’s decision, which was made via a secret vote, was “unjust”.
He said: “While I consider this decision unjust, we will continue the reform process because we are acting with conviction and believe in good governance.
“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’s decision was not entirely unexpected considering that Malta has been the subject of international criticism for years for issues such as the sale of national passports and a lack of legal action against government officials revealed to own offshore companies.
There had been speculation that Malta might be able to escape a greylisting if it dropped its veto of an EU sports betting convention.
Malta has vetoed the convention since 2014 due to its disagreement with the definition of “illegal sports betting”. The veto has resulted in an institutional stalemate at the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly, preventing the European Commission from signing the convention on behalf of the EU’s 28 member states.
Gaming is the second largest industry in Malta, which has become a major hub for online gaming in Europe. However, some operators have raised concerns that recent scandals involving senior officials and regulators risk tarnishing the sector’s reputation.
In March, the igaming operator association iGEN called for Malta to take “clear and decisive” action against any wrongdoing among officials and regulators in order to protect the Maltese igaming industry’s reputation.