Malta has been placed on the gray list the Financial Action Task Force , joining 19 other countries deemed financially unreliable and classified as having "strategic deficiencies" by an anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing organization.
Including countries such as Albania, Burma, Syria and Zimbabwe, Malta has previously faced international criticism over the Panama Paper scandal, in which Maltese government data involved in the formation of offshore companies faced little legal action as well as controversy over the sale of national passports.
Speaking at a press conference, President of Malta, Robert Abela, commented on the FATF decision: “While I find this decision unfair, we will continue the reform process as we act with conviction and believe in good governance.
“We are committed to carrying out all necessary reforms while preserving the national interest. We will never refuse to cooperate or interfere, but we will strengthen our determination to fight money laundering and the financing of international terrorism. "
Joining Aela to criticize the decisions of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, opposition leader Bernard Grech described the move as a "national penalty," while both the government and the Malta Gaming Authority continued to defend the island's financial security policy and infrastructure, stressing that the authorities Malta is able to counter illegal betting in cooperation with sports and law enforcement agencies.
Both government and financial data have legitimate concerns about the FATF ruling, as the gambling sector and financial services play a key role in the country's economy and therefore a decision to recognize the financially fragile infrastructure of an island could have serious consequences.
Gambling in particular plays a key role in the country's economic fabric, serving more than 9, jobs both directly and indirectly, generating € 392 million per year and accounting for 12 percent of the country's GDP.
The announcement fits closely with last week's disclosure that Malta may be forced to withdraw its veto on signing Macolin Convention , An initiative of the Council of Europe to protect sport and fight corruption, to hand over the financial security of the FATF Moneyval test.
If fully ratified, the Convention would prevent licensed gambling operators in Malta from extending their commercial activities abroad, unless it complies with the laws of other Member States, as part of the broader international restriction of the bookmaking industry.