The CEO of Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), Carl Brincat, has reiterated the Authority’s commitment to and prioritisation for its battle against money laundering, saying that it is the “supervisory authority that acts as the lunga manus (long hand) of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU), which is [Malta’s] principal regulator”.
Answering questions for an article on MaltaCEOs.mt, released against the backdrop of an upcoming vote by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s vote on Malta’s AML/CFT landscape, Dr Brincat insisted that the MGA was doing its part to prioritise work in the area.
“Working hand in hand with the FIAU, we have continued to bolster the human resources dedicated to AML/CFT examinations and the conducting of interviews with prospective Money Laundering Reporting Officers within MGA licensees, to ensure that they are well-equipped to carry out their role”, he explained.
The Authority has also continued to invest time and resources into outreach initiatives, to help guide the industry on what is expected and required from it.
“Much more remains to be done on this front, but naturally it remains one of our highest priorities and we will continue to improve our effectiveness as well as our efficiency”, Dr Brincat explained.
“Moreover, in order to continuously update our knowledge and awareness, we have also commenced an updated Sectoral Risk Assessment of the industry from an AML/CFT perspective, to always ensure that we are adopting a risk-based approach based on accurate knowledge and understanding of the relevant risks”.
The Authority continues efforts to battle illegal practices within the industry and has recently launched a new online portal, for the reporting of suspicious transactions by all B2C license-holders in the iGaming sector, to help fight betting manipulation.
“The MGA’s Sports Betting Integrity Department was already receiving such reports on a voluntary basis before reporting was made mandatory on 1st January 2021 [and] many operators had been very forthcoming with their reporting”, explained Dr Brincat.
“Ultimately, it is also in the interest of regulated operators like our licensees to use their information to assist in the detection of match-fixing”, he continued.
Reflecting on the first four months of 2021, he revealed that the MGA received a total of 112 reports of suspicious betting incidents from its licensees and participated in 16 different investigations related to the manipulation of sports competitions.
Sports betting regulation is especially important to the wider iGaming sector at the moment, considering that Malta’s refusal to ratify the EU Macolin Convention on sports betting has been cited as a key factor holding Malta back from FATF approval.
Under the Council of Europe’s Convention, which aims to combat the manipulation of sports betting through illegal betting, Malta-based operators would need to honour the laws of the jurisdiction in which players using the online services are based.
Should Malta fail to achieve a green light from the FATF, the impact on the country’s financial services sector could be major.
Malta’s inclusion in the world-wide money laundering offenders list has the potential to seriously harm the country’s economy through changes to foreign direct investment, money transactions and banking activities.
Malta would be the first EU country to be placed onto the FATF grey list, although its place there would likely be temporarily. In the case of Iceland, which was placed on the list in 2019, by 2020 the FATF announced the removal of the country from its list.
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