Offshore gambling hub Gibraltar has been struck off the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list of jurisdictions.

The FATF keeps a list of jurisdictions that require increased monitoring to fulfil their anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing obligations. This is often unofficially termed the “grey list”.

After an FATF plenary today (23 February) in Paris, the inter-governmental organisation opted to remove Gibraltar from the list.

This was widely expected, with the body reporting the territory had “substantially completed” its action plan in October 2023. This came despite insufficient progress having been made to fully exit the list in time for its original May 2023 deadline.

The body noted “significant progress” in addressing the strategic AML/CTF deficiencies identified in previous evaluations.

As such, the peninsular will no longer be subject to the FATF’s increased monitoring process.

“The jurisdiction was happy to receive the decision of the FATF Plenary that Gibraltar no longer requires enhanced monitoring by the FATF,” Gibraltar gambling commissioner and executive director Andrew Lyman told NEXT.io.

“There is a sense of jurisdictional relief about removal from the grey list, but also a sense of pride that a big team effort, together with a political will to facilitate change and allocate resource has helped to demonstrate that Gibraltar is a well managed and fully compliant financial centre.”

Presence on the grey list can lead to increased compliance obligations for registered businesses in the jurisdiction, as well as making it harder to access certain financial structures.

“The FATF’s grey list process is not punitive, it is a tool to highlight to countries the fundamental gaps in their AML/CFT system that facilitate crime and enable illicit finance so that they can work closely with the FATF to address these gaps,” said FATF president T. Raja Kumar.

“This is very welcome news and I am delighted that our continued and ongoing work and political commitment to future development has been recognised,” said Gibraltar chief minister the Hon Fabian Picardo KC MP.

“I am grateful to all the agencies and authorities that have contributed to this work as well as the private sector that has wholeheartedly joined us in our fight against economic crime. Gibraltar’s FATF white listing not only enhances our reputation but also strengthens our position as a trusted and compliant international financial centre.”

Gibraltar first appears on list in June 2022

The global anti-money laundering body first placed Gibraltar on the list after the June 2022 plenary, the same meeting that saw Malta removed from the grey list.

In its remarks, the FATF highlighted the territory’s online gambling industry as the principal reason for its presence on the list.

The FATF urged Gibraltar to take steps to improve its AML regime. This included by focusing on the “gatekeepers” of the financial system, as well as on gambling operators and lawyers.

The body also said the British Overseas Territory had historically failed in applying sufficient fines for AML failings.

After placing Gibraltar on the list, the FATF set an action plan with a May 2023 deadline for completion.

However, in October 2023, the body said that all deadlines had now “expired” with insufficient progress having been made to exit the list.

By the October plenary, only one item remained to be completed to fully actioned in order to leave the grey list.

As such, the FATF noted Gibraltar’s progress. However, the intergovernmental body highlighted further work was required.

Gibraltar’s failure to exit the list in the October 2023 plenary ignited a political row within the country, with the centre-right Gibraltar Social Democrats (GSD) slamming the government’s “underwhelming” delisting plan.

The government in response criticised the GSD for “political opportunism” with the grey list.

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) president Raja Kumar has confirmed Gibraltar is on track to be removed from its list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring.  

In a Friday plenary session, the FATF said the British Overseas Territory has “substantially completed” its action plan and would send for an on-site inspection to check the progress. 

This exit inspection is the final stage of the process before the international AML body removes a jurisdiction from the so-called grey list.  

It will aim to verify the implementation of the AML/ CTF reforms has begun – and that there is political will to continue the work in future.  

The Gibraltar government is optimistic the FATF will remove it from the list at the next plenary session, which is scheduled for February 2024.  

“Everyone in Gibraltar will be delighted by this news and warmly welcome this highly positive outcome,” said Gibraltar minister for justice, trade and industry Nigel Feetham KC.  

“I wish to thank all of those authorities who have worked tirelessly in this process and continue to support us in our work to address these action points and remove Gibraltar from the grey list at the earliest possible opportunity.” 

FATF places Gibraltar on grey list

The FATF originally placed Gibraltar on the grey list at its June 2022 plenary session, a meeting that also saw Malta removed from the list.  

Presence on the list has meant Gibraltar-based companies face potentially increased compliance costs, as well as greater difficulty in accessing financial services.  

“We have totally committed to this process and look forward to continuing to engage with the FATF as we further develop our strategies in our fight against economic crime,” added Feetham.  

The body’s then chair, Marcus Pleyer, said the peninsula’s status as an online gambling hub played a significant role in the decision to add it to the grey list.  

In particular, he highlighted Gibraltar’s failure to apply appropriate sanctions on gambling operators for AML/ CTF failings.  

Following the plenary, the FATF presented the territory with an action plan to improve its financial regime.  

The plan asked Gibraltar to give its financial regulators increased powers to pursue regulatory sanctions and to show it was more “actively and successfully” pursuing confiscation orders.  

The government initially expected to complete the plan within 12 months, with a May 2023 deadline.  

Ultimately, this timeline was not met.  

In June 2023, the FATF warned Gibraltar that “all deadlines have now expired”. As a result, it urged the territory to complete its action plan as soon as possible.   

As Gibraltar remains on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the government faces mounting criticism.

But gambling commissioner Andrew Lyman has underscored that only one substantive action point remains pending, which does not relate to the local gaming sector.

The FATF stated that although progress had been made, the deadline for implementing the required actions has passed.

Gibraltar was placed on the grey list in June 2022 due to to deficiencies in anti-money laundering (AML) compliance.

The FATF had initially highlighted certain steps that Gibraltar needed to take to be removed from the list, including focusing on gatekeepers to the financial system and imposing appropriate financial penalties.

In response, Gibraltar implemented an action plan to effectively combat money laundering.

While the FATF acknowledged progress in strengthening Gibraltar’s AML and counter-terrorism financing regime, it urged the Rock to also demonstrate its ability to pursue more “final confiscation judgments commensurate with the risk and context of Gibraltar”, which is the only outstanding point.

Light at the end of tunnel

In comments made to iGaming NEXT, Gibraltar gambling commissioner Lyman stressed that all action points related to Gibraltar’s supervisory agencies were completed as of February 2023.

Gibraltar increased the number of gambling licensees by 13 last year, which Lyman said demonstrates the lack of grey listing impact on the jurisdiction’s gambling industry.

“Therefore, the grey listing has had only a limited detrimental effect on the sector, which can now see light at the end of the tunnel,” Lyman said.

Being on the FATF grey list typically results in increased regulatory scrutiny, limited access to banking services, and oversight by regulatory bodies due to financial institutions’ hesitancy to engage in transactions with countries on the list.

The Gibraltar government expressed its commitment to the ongoing process, with all relevant authorities working with the FATF to ensure full compliance with the action plan as soon as possible.

Scoring political points

However, Roy Clinton, shadow minister for financial services and gaming of the Gibraltar Social Democrats (GSD), expressed frustration and criticised the government for a lack of details on how delisting would be achieved.

Speaking to the Gibraltar Chronicle, Clinton highlighted the failure to deliver on previous statements regarding compliance within the given timescale and expressed concern about Gibraltar’s reputation as a high-risk jurisdiction.

Clinton noted that the Cayman Islands, which was also added to the grey list in 2021 and had a similar point to address, has already met the FATF action plan and will commence the process for delisting in October 2023 after an onsite visit.

The government responded to Clinton’s criticism by stating that the GSD was well aware of the strict rules of confidentiality governing the FATF process.

It expressed disappointment that the party had chosen to prioritise “scoring cheap political points” over the importance of the matter at hand.

Lastly, the government emphasised that, at present, there was nothing more it could do as the law enforcement agencies and regulators continue their work.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has suspended Russia’s membership on the one-year anniversary of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine while confirming that Gibraltar will remain on its grey list.

The decisions were made at the second Plenary of the FATF in Paris, which includes members from over 200 jurisdictions worldwide.

“The Russian Federation’s actions unacceptably run counter to the FATF core principles aiming to promote security, safety, and the integrity of the global financial system,” the global financial oversight entity said.

The FATF said it will continue to monitor the situation and will review the restrictions at each Plenary meeting.

More progress needed

Meanwhile, iGaming hub Gibraltar will remain on the FATF’s grey list, as confirmed by the watchdog.

The British territory, known for its online gambling industry, was placed on the increased monitoring list in June 2022 due to its failure to apply adequate fines for anti-money laundering breaches.

Malta was removed from the grey list at the June meeting.

The FATF acknowledged that Gibraltar had implemented measures to improve the effectiveness of its anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing (AML/CFT) regime.

In particular, the watchdog highlighted that supervisory bodies in industries such as gaming, law, real estate, and company management had taken effective action to address violations of AML/CFT regulations.

However, the FATF chose not to remove Gibraltar from the grey list and recommended that Gibraltar continues to implement its action plan, including pursuing more final confiscation judgments in line with the territory’s risk and context.

Nigeria and South Africa added

In addition, the FATF included South Africa and Nigeria to its list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring, which means that customers of financial institutions in these countries can expect to undergo more thorough due diligence examinations in the global banking and finance industry.

Nigeria is also an increasingly important market for the iGaming industry.

Stockholm-listed Betsson entered Nigeria in July 2022 following the acquisition of a 60% stake in local sportsbook Betbonanza.

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.

It’s official: Malta has been removed from a list of jurisdictions with weak measures for combatting money laundering and financial crime.

Europe’s Financial Action Task Force (FATF) confirmed the decision today (17 June) at the end of the FATF plenary meeting in Berlin, Germany.

Earlier this week, news spread through local media outlets that Malta was on track to be struck off the so-called grey list and added to the white list.

Malta’s iGaming industry widely welcomed the good news. Speaking to iGamingNEXT, however, key executives also expressed caution. They stressed the need for Malta to maintain the highest compliance standards to avoid being classified as a high-risk jurisdiction once again.

Alan Alden, Roger Strickland Jr, Russell Mifsud, Enrico Bradamante and Ivan Filletti

Enrico Bradamante, founder at iGEN

The gambling sector was relieved to see Malta exit the FATF grey list, said Enrico Bradamante, who commented on behalf of industry association iGEN.

iGEN commended the government and all the institutions that have worked to address the shortcomings reported over the last years.

The association now hopes that financial institutions will soon lift the enhanced scrutiny, which resulted in increased costs and operational complexity.

Russell Mifsud, gaming director at KPMG Malta

Elsewhere, Russell Mifsud, gaming director at KPMG Malta, said: “The grey list lifting brings Malta back its degree of credibility, while diffusing inherent scepticism at both operational and investor level.

“The journey of transitioning back to the white list gives Malta the opportunity to come back stronger than it has ever been and to continue building on its ecosystem as the iGaming capital of the world.”

He also pointed out that Malta’s challenge will be to maintain the rigorous standards it has committed to, while remaining business-friendly and sustainable when compared to other competing jurisdictions.

Roger Strickland Jr, iGaming director at CSB Group

Roger Strickland Jr, iGaming director at CSB Group, told iGaming NEXT: “The grey listing was more serious than many people admitted, and we now need to keep up the high standards.”

He added the enhanced due diligence had heavily affected banking transactions, while negative news about the country could have weakened investor confidence among those looking to acquire or buy into iGaming companies based on the island had Malta remained on the list for much longer.

Alan Alden, general secretary at Malta Remote Gaming Council

Meanwhile, Alan Alden, director of Kyte Consultants and general secretary of the Malta Remote Gaming Council said: “This is very good news for Malta. It’s a pity we had to go through the greylisting, but thankfully it didn’t last that long.

“Malta now needs to keep its reputation intact and build on the successes of the past. We hope to see an increase of new investors coming to Malta. We have a well-developed gaming ecosystem that is rearing to go.”

Ivan Filletti, CEO at iGaming Malta

Finally, Ivan Filletti, CEO of GamingMalta, a foundation tasked with promoting Malta’s iGaming sector internationally, said: “The FATF’s decision shows that Malta is a trustable jurisdiction fully equipped to fight financial crime.

“Our established gaming ecosystem, experienced talent and good governance framework will continue to not only support global businesses and start-ups alike, but also help them thrive.”

Malta will now work with FATF regional partner MONEYVAL, of which it is a member, to continue strengthening its AML regime.

Photo: © Hervé Cortinat / OECD

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) voted to remove Malta from its so-called grey list yesterday (15 June), according to various reports from Maltese media sources.

While the outcome of the vote has yet to be made official, both the Times of Malta and the Malta Independent reported that FATF member states had agreed to remove Malta from its list of jurisdictions with weak measures for combatting money laundering and financial crime.

Malta’s change in designation is the result of a secret vote taken at ongoing FATF meetings in Germany. The global financial watchdog will publish its official decisions on Friday.

According to the sources, the vote was taken by 37 jurisdictions and two regional organisations; the European Commission and the Gulf Cooperation Council, which are recognised as members of the FATF.

While Malta did not have a say during the sittings, it is understood that the country lobbied other members to speak on its behalf.

Malta was added to the list of jurisdictions under increased scrutiny in June 2021, after the intergovernmental organisation found that it was not doing enough to combat financial crime. 

This marked the first time that an EU member state had been put under increased international scrutiny and enhanced monitoring by the FATF.

Malta was given a long to-do list and a detailed action plan to strengthen its anti-money laundering and funding of terrorism (AML/CFT) framework.

At its February 2022 meeting, the FATF announced that Malta had substantially completed its action plan and was ready for an on-site assessment. FATF representatives then visited the island in April.

Throughout the past year, the country has implemented several reforms and overhauled its compliance frameworks to ensure international AML obligations are met and its institutions have the power and resources to detect and prosecute financial crime.

Although Malta will be removed from the grey list, it will need to continue working with FATF and show that it is committed to preventing financial crime beyond the end of the greylisting.

The decision comes at a time when Malta’s Gaming Authority (MGA) has itself been shown to combat corruption in its ranks. 

The regulator’s former chief technology officer, Jason Farrugia, recently appeared in court on charges of money laundering alongside his wife, Christine.

Farrugia had left the MGA disgraced in 2021, after he was alleged to have leaked confidential and commercially sensitive information held by the authority. 

The Financial Crime Investigation Department of Malta’s police force subsequently launched an investigation, leading to the charges being brought against Farrugia in court.

Featured image credit: Hervé Cortinat / OECD

Jason Farrugia, former chief technology officer of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), has appeared in court on charges of money laundering alongside his wife Christine.

Earlier this week, the pair pleaded not guilty to money laundering charges brought against them relating to Farrugia’s stint at the regulator.

The former CTO and his wife were jointly charged with the offence, while Farrugia was separately charged with a series of other alleged crimes, including extortion, accepting bribes, fraud exceeding €5,000, misappropriation, trading in influence, disclosing confidential information and computer misuse.

The court heard that police investigations against the pair had been ongoing for some six months, while bail was denied to the couple to eliminate the risk of tampering with evidence while investigations continue.

A prosecution request to freeze the couple’s assets was also upheld.

Farrugia left the MGA in disgrace late last year after he was alleged to have leaked confidential and commercially sensitive information held by the authority.

The Financial Crime Investigation Department of Malta’s police force subsequently launched an investigation, leading to the charges now being brought against Farrugia in court.

The activities of the MGA have been subject to intense scrutiny over the past year, after the regulator’s former CEO Heathcliff Farrugia was brought up on criminal charges following an investigation into trading in influence with former casino executive Yorgen Fenech.

Fenech was subsequently put on trial for the alleged murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The MGA now has its work cut out to repair its damaged reputation, which was dragged further through the mud in June last year when the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) added Malta to its ‘grey’ list of jurisdictions for increased monitoring.

Although the FATF said in March that it would visit Malta at the earliest possible opportunity to confirm whether it had completed an action plan set out for it, high-profile corruption cases like Farrugia’s could lead to further hesitance to remove it from the grey list.

And the controversy surrounding both Jason and Heathcliff Farrugia is not the only thing working against the authority.

This morning, it was revealed that gaming consultant and former MGA employee Iosif Galea is also wanted to face charges in connection with an alleged racket that again saw sensitive information leaked from within the regulator.

Police sources told the Times of Malta that Galea is the subject of a European arrest warrant relating to his alleged role in the conspiracy.

Commenting on the case of Jason Farrugia and his wife, the MGA said: “The MGA would like to clarify that the employment relationship with Mr Farrugia was terminated in December 2021 following an internal investigation initiated by the MGA into alleged wrongdoings by the same individual. 

“The results of these investigations were passed on to the relevant authorities and the MGA has been, and remains, at their disposal and providing all required assistance. In the meantime, the MGA continues to take all the necessary steps to ensure the integrity of its data.”

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will visit Malta at the earliest possible opportunity to confirm whether the country has substantially completed the action plan set out for it last year.

The FATF added Malta to its so-called ‘grey list’ of countries under heightened scrutiny last June after identifying deficiencies in the country’s anti-money laundering and funding of terrorism (AML/CFT) framework.

FATF president Marcus Pleyer said that a lack of transparency on the ultimate beneficial owners of companies and weak financial intelligence on tax crimes were the main strategic deficiencies that led to Malta’s inclusion on the list.

It marked the first time an EU member state had been included on the list and was followed in October with an agreed action plan drawn up by the Malta National Coordination Committee.

Actions to improve the system included strengthening Malta’s risk-based approach to the supervision of finance institutions and non-financial businesses, improving its analytical process for financial intelligence, improving police resources and prosecutor powers for investigating and charging financial offences and raising the sanctions available for the crime of terrorist financing.

Since then, FATF said it had determined in its February plenary that Malta has substantially completed its action plan and now warrants an on-site visit to verify that its implementation of reforms has begun and is being sustained, and that the necessary political commitment remains in place.

The FATF Plenary is taking place this week in Paris with important items on the agenda such as a reform of the beneficial ownership transparency, the conclusion of the strategic review, work on enabling countries to rapidly freeze assets and addressing unintended consequences. pic.twitter.com/OXzc2h2q3B

— Marcus Pleyer (@MarcusPleyer) March 3, 2022

Key reforms made so far include continuing to demonstrate that beneficial ownership information is accurate and that effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions are applied to legal persons where information is found to be inaccurate.

Malta has also enhanced its use of intelligence from the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to support authorities pursuing criminal tax and money laundering-related cases, and increased its focus of the FIU’s analysis on money laundering and terrorist financing offences in order to help the authorities detect and identify cases more effectively.

There was concern among gambling industry stakeholders that Malta’s inclusion on the grey list would see international operators take their business elsewhere in fear of possible ramifications for the island’s booming iGaming industry.

Kindred Group CEO Henrik Tjärnström was one of several executives to comment on the situation. At the time, he said Malta needed to move fast to redeem its reputation and lose its status on the FATF list.

Race to the bottom

A story published by Racing TV suggested that punters aren’t too happy with the UK government’s rumoured plans to introduce enhanced affordability checks for online gambling customers as part of its review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

According to the report, more than 95% of respondents to a survey of Racing TV members said they would not be willing to share bank statements with betting operators in order to prove the amount they can afford to bet.

More than 93% of respondents also agreed it would be wrong for the government to have control over how much bettors could wager on a single event, and over 86% believed enhanced checks could work against the government’s intention to keep gambling safe and legal, by encouraging punters to use unlicensed, offshore bookies.

And the dangers of intrusive checks threaten much more than just the customer experience according to former editor of the Racing Post Bruce Millington, who was interviewed by Racing TV to discuss the subject.

If bookmakers begin to demand “the kind of personal financial details that you’d only really be prepared to give to a mortgage broker” from customers, Millington argued, “it’s going to affect racing’s funding.

“Racing gets a large chunk of its funding through bookmaker contributions, and those contributions are based on profit, not turnover,” he said. “If profits get hit, it means the amount that goes into the prize money gets hit, and everybody feels the pinch.

“What you do need to make sure is that these decisions are made on evidence, and [that they are] not knee-jerk and not populist,” Millington concluded. 

Who wants to bet which way the Gambling Act review will go?

Playtech bidding war heats up over rumours of Caliente sale

Sky News broke the story on Tuesday that Caliente Interactive, in which Playtech owns a 49% stake, is in talks over a $2.5bn merger with US-listed SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) Tekkorp Digital.

According to the report, City sources said Caliente was expected to take over Playtech’s right to acquire a 49% stake in parent company Calipay, which would trigger a payment to Playtech shareholders.

That payment would be accelerated as part of JKO Play’s expected offer to acquire Playtech, through the creation of a contingent value right, according to the story.

JKO Play, set up by former Formula One team owner Eddie Jordan and ex-Scientific Games executive Keith O’Loughlin, is thought to be finalising the details of an offer of around 750p per share to acquire the business, which would put Playtech’s value at around £3bn.

Wanna bet?

Bloomberg published an illuminating piece on the rapid expansion of the US sports betting market on Thursday, with graphics illustrating just how quickly the vertical has grown over the past two to three years.

The article points out the speed at which national sports betting handle has started to balloon, with punters wagering around $310m in June 2018, compared to $7bn in October 2021 – an increase of over 2,000%.

And, from its relatively humble beginnings generating around $1bn in annual revenue, Goldman Sachs estimates the online gambling market could be worth $39bn per annum by 2033, according to the report.

Other valuable snippets from the piece include an indication of the speed at which mobile has taken over as the United States’ betting form factor of choice, as well as predicted annual revenues for states which have yet to regulate and launch online.

Time to face FATFs

Another story from Bloomberg finds its way into this week’s Hot Copy, as a report on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) decision to add Malta to its grey list explored some of the harms it may bring to the island’s iGaming industry and economy.

“If Malta stays on [the grey list] long enough, payment processors and correspondent banks (which act as overseas agents or intermediaries for Maltese lenders) might start declining to handle transactions originating there; companies from other places, in particular the US, might decide that striking deals with Malta-based partners isn’t worth the risk,” the report warned.

However, MGA chief executive Carl Brincat told the publisher: “Malta is putting all its efforts into making sure, first of all, that any negative ramifications of the grey-listing are mitigated and, secondly, that we convince our international partners, very soon, and we get out of the grey list.”

The piece gives an in-depth history of Malta’s iGaming past; from the circumstances which made it such an attractive jurisdiction for gambling businesses in the early naughties, to the troubles it faces today, and the actions it will likely need to take in order to secure its future.

For example, the author wrote: “To come off the list, Malta’s leaders will need to do several things they’ve never before managed, such as demonstrating that they’ve taken concrete action to prevent anonymous shell companies from helping move dirty money.”

The report concluded with quotes from Malta finance minister Clyde Caruana, who said improving Malta’s international reputation would require a broad change in mentality across all the island’s governing institutions, as well as increasing numbers of prosecutions and convictions for rule-breakers.