Labour propagandists are running victory laps over Malta’s exit from the FATF Grey List. First, we destroy Malta’s reputation, then we celebrate its restoration. Curb your enthusiasm kids. Your elders may be suffering from dementia. Pakistan has exited the Grey List too. It’s great being a European country whilst following the same course as Pakistan, only that we are far behind Pakistan because, unlike the Pakistanis, we didn’t jail our dear leader for laundering money with Panama companies.
Malta’s reputation was already damaged before we entered the Grey List. Bank of Valletta lost its US Dollar corresponding bank and is moving US Dollars with Western Union. Companies and Maltese residents and passport holders will still face problems opening bank accounts and doing business with reputable financial institutions abroad. Vixio Regulatory Intelligence which focuses on the gambling industry has issued a private report stating that companies in the gaming industry expect at least another 18 months before Malta’s reputation is restored.
Getting off the Grey List does not mean that our reputation has been restored, but only that we are no longer under strict money-laundering procedures by the FATF. The FATF marking does not work like an electronic switch which turns reputation on and off. Our reputation will take years to build again and it will depend on many factors. Getting off the Grey List is the first and obvious step, but next comes good governance which the government is hell-bent on destroying. Then there is the course of justice, corruption and rent-seeking. There is also our economic model to contend with. We can still be simultaneously a mafia state and out of the Grey List.