Like the majority of EU countries, Malta missed the previously set 26th June deadline to implement the 4th Anti Money Laundering Directive (EU) No. 2015/849 (the “Directive”). However today the parliamentary bill implementing its provisions has been submitted to the Maltese parliament to undergo the legislative process.
In its widest interpretation, the Directive has taken a risk based approach and has implemented a number of regulations which is tasked with dealing with the principle of risk analysis and having the relevant subject persons implement the corresponding adequate safeguards. The Directive, inter alia, imposes stricter client controls on banks and other financial intermediaries, obliges financial intermediaries to carry out ongoing risk assessments of their customers in a bid to combat money laundering and broadens the definition of a politically exposed person, meaning that more people will be subjected to stricter checks.
Furthermore, the Directive also extends its applicability to gaming service providers which are now categorised as ‘obliged entities’, nonetheless, it gives Member States the flexibility to remove such providers – with the exception of casinos – partially or completely from the list of obliged entities if a low money laundering risk is evidenced. Perhaps the most salient point arising from the Directive, is the EU’s commitment to impose adequate regulations of identifying beneficial owners through the creation of a central register which is to be created in every Member State and the information must be adequate, accurate and current. Questions around who will be permitted to access the information on the register are still very much open in the context of the Directive.
The Malta Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit has issued a Consultation Document (the “Consultation Document”) on the 6th of July 2017, calling for all subject persons to make any necessary submissions with respect to the proposed amendments to the current Prevention of Money Laundering legislation in Malta. The Consultation Document provides for most of the provisions outlined in the Directive. However the provisions for the formulation of a central register as imposed by the Directive are conspicuous by their absence. Malta’s Minister for Finance, Mr Edward Scicluna, stated that provisions regulating the central register are to be implemented through the enactment of a subsidiary legislation, however no indication as to what such subsidiary legislation would contain or when its planned date of publication have yet been disclosed.
The proposed Bill to implement the said Directive into local legislation and subsequently bring Malta in line with the latest EU anti-money-laundering legislation is set to be tabled in Parliament today for its first reading.
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