Gambling commissioner defends sanctions record after Gibraltar is added to FATF grey list

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Gibraltar is committed to working with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to get the iGaming hub removed from the grey list in the shortest possible time, according to gambling commissioner Andrew Lyman.

In comments made to iGaming NEXT, Lyman also questioned the FATF’s view that Gibraltar did not issue sufficient financial penalties or sanctions. He pointed out that Gibraltar had fined multiple gambling companies over the past two years.

The global financial watchdog last week removed Malta but added Gibraltar to its watchlist of countries subject to increased monitoring at the end of its plenary meeting in Berlin, Germany on Friday (17 June).

Announcing the decision, the FATF acknowledged Gibraltar’s “high-level political commitment” to strengthen the effectiveness of its anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing (AML/CFT) regime.

However, Marcus Pleyer, president of the FATF, said during the press conference: “Gibraltar needs to take a number of steps including focusing on gatekeepers to the financial system, including gambling operators and lawyers.

“At the moment, supervisors are not applying sufficient fines for anti-money laundering failings. This is important as the gambling sector in Gibraltar is large and is aimed at foreign jurisdictions.”

FATF president Marcus Pleyer: “Gibraltar needs to take a number of steps including focusing on gatekeepers to the financial system, including gambling operators and lawyers.”

A December 2021 assessment made by the Council of Europe’s committee of experts on money laundering and terrorist financing, better known as MONEYVAL, found that Gibraltar had already significantly improved its AML/CFT measures.

The MONEYVAL mutual evaluation report contained 78 recommended actions, of which only two remain outstanding. These relate to the pursuit of regulatory sanctions and final confiscation judgements in cases where rules have been breached.

The FATF said it now wants to see Gibraltar work on implementing its action plan, including by ensuring that supervisory authorities use a range of effective, proportionate, and dissuasive sanctions for AML/CFT breaches; and by demonstrating that it is more actively and successfully pursuing final confiscation judgements, through criminal or civil proceedings based on financial investigations.

In response, gambling commissioner Lyman highlighted that between 2020 and 2022, Gibraltar had imposed six fines on five operators to a total financial value of £3.7m.

Gibraltar gambling commissioner Andrew Lyman: “We are still rationalising why the FATF did not consider the six financial settlements we imposed in the relevant period to be ‘active or successful’, or why it has disregarded or misinterpreted the evidence of effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions put before it.”

“We are still rationalising why the FATF did not consider the six financial settlements we imposed in the relevant period to be ‘active or successful’, or why it has disregarded or misinterpreted the evidence of effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions put before it,” Lyman said.

“Regardless of the circumstances, we are committed to achieving the relevant actions in the shortest time possible to get Gibraltar off the grey list,” he added.

Lyman also pointed out that based on Malta’s experience, he does not believe the economic impact will be as great as prophesied in the immediate aftermath of the FATF decision.

“There has been no criticism of the overall financial system and structures such as the Financial Intelligence Unit and criticism of the gambling supervisory structure was limited to the sanctions issue only; not the overall approach to managing risk,” he added.

About the author

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Sonja Lindenberg

Sonja Lindenberg is an experienced editor and journalist, with a strong focus on business, finance, trade and investment. She holds a degree in business journalism and throughout the past two decades has covered companies and industries in various markets and for different media, including newspapers, news agencies, inflight magazines, country reports and trade publications. Sonja joined iGaming NEXT in June 2022.

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