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AML support centre on the cards for Malta

Photo: Mike McBey

By Dan Byrne

Malta plans to set up a centre with the specific purpose of helping to combat money-laundering.

The initiative is a collaboration between the Maltese government and the Institute for Small States – an academic organisation associated with the University of Malta.

The institute promotes research and training on economic, social, cultural, and other important aspects of governance in small states and islands.

Maltese Foreign affairs minister Evarist Bartolo told the Times of Malta that money laundering was a problem that challenged several small states, and which required coherent efforts to help overcome.

The government, alongside the Institute, will now lobby international organisations for funding to help move the project forward.

The news comes during a time when Malta’s international reputation in the financial sector is deteriorating.

An OECD report on tax transparency recently downgraded Malta’s grade from ‘largely compliant’ with best practice in 2013, to ‘partially compliant’ in 2019.

Separately, a MONEYVAL evaluation criticised Malta’s record in supervision of anti-money-laundering efforts and said that its watchdog body, the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, has a “low level of effectiveness” in monitoring and dealing with financial crime.

Speaking at the signing of the memorandum of understanding, Barolo highlighted the unique challenges faced by small states like Malta.

“A small island can have all the rituals of state, but still be treated as little more than a colony by larger states. This is something I have experiences to be true myself.”

University of Malta rector Alfred Vella signed the memorandum on behalf of the Institute and praised the its role as a centre for research, as well as brining representatives from many nations together for gatherings and summits.

He claimed that hardly any academic studies on small states are currently carried out without referencing the work of the institute.

With the memorandum now signed, the institute will begin looking for funds to get the project off the ground, with government support.

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