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A secret vote held on Wednesday by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) resulted in agreement for Malta to be removed from the list of countries under increased monitoring, better known as the grey list. The news was broken by The Times of Malta, which cited sources.

Being placed on the grey list acts as a signal to the world that there are increased risks with doing business with Malta. The FATF is a global watchdog tasked with fighting money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

A formal announcement will only be made on Friday, after the FATF completes a week-long session of plenary debates and votes.

Malta was placed under increased monitoring in June 2021, and after a series of reforms based on recommendations that came with the shock inclusion in the grey list, in March 2022 FATF representatives determined that the country “substantially completed its action plan” which “warrants an on-site visit to verify that the implementation of Malta’s AML/CFT reforms has begun”.

That on-site visit came in April 2022 over a period of three days.

The FATF action plan included changes to the way Malta investigates and acts on tax evasion and how authorities collect and share data on ultimate beneficial ownership with local and international authorities.

The plenary secret vote involves 37 jurisdictions and two regional organisations which came in the form of the European Commission and the Gulf Co-operation Council. Both are recognised members of the FATF.

According to Government sources who spoke to the Times, the country is not completely out of the woods yet. Sources say that assessors will be monitoring the island as a jurisdiction to ensure that it does not slip into old ways and ease pressure on the pace of reform.

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