It is no secret that Malta’s rise as a financial centre has faced headwinds in recent years due to financial crime concerns that have exploited the jurisdiction’s favourable business climate.
The recent trends shaping financial crime in Malta
In response, the authorities have prioritised improving the jurisdiction’s understanding of the problem, including by issuing new guidance and conducting more investigations. Although trending towards a more sophisticated understanding means that regulators and firms have a stronger chance of identifying money laundering and other illicit typologies, it does not necessarily lead to a decrease in criminal activity. In Malta, much like other jurisdictions, financial crime continues to evolve in volume and complexity, particularly in areas known to present a higher degree of risk, such as banking, corporate service providers, cryptocurrencies – the island awarded its first virtual assets licence in November 2020 – e-money, gaming firms and payment service providers. In recognising the true scale and interconnected nature of the prudential and financial crime risks facing the jurisdiction, though, Malta has begun to pursue more aggressive enforcement action – a trend that is expected to continue as the jurisdiction works to align its regulatory regime with its risk profile.
This article has been reprinted with kind permission from Financier Worldwide.