U.S. and Malta join to fight financial crime

Man speaking at lectern (Dominic Aquilina/MFSA)
The U.S. Embassy in Malta's Mark A. Schapiro at the Financial Integrity Forum (Dominic Aquilina/MFSA)

On the theory that two heads are better than one, the United States is partnering with Malta to fight money laundering and schemes to finance terrorism.

The Republic of Malta, an independent island country in the Mediterranean Sea, is home to almost a half-million people and is one of the fastest-growing economies in the European Union.

Malta’s prosperity is partly due to its economic creativity and financial market innovations. But its rapidly growing economy exposes Malta to criminals seeking to exploit its innovations by laundering money or conducting fraudulent transactions.

Malta has taken steps recently to improve its laws that protect against these exploitations. Malta’s government works closely with the country’s private sector as well as with the U.S. to tackle these challenges.

While embracing technologies such as blockchain and virtual assets, Malta wants a transparent economy that does not serve as a back door for bad actors seeking access to the European market. It is working to strengthen its institutions and its ability to prosecute stand-alone crimes of money laundering and terrorist financing.

The U.S. Embassy in Malta is deepening U.S. collaboration with the country to counter transnational financial threats and to confront economic crime, money laundering and terrorism finance.

In September, the embassy co-hosted the second Financial Integrity Forum with the Malta Financial Services Authority. The forum brought together private-sector leaders, financial institutions and government financial regulators. They discussed how to best share information among each other and how to improve financial oversight.

The embassy also provided training through an IRS course called “Financial Investigative Techniques.” The course, taught in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense, addresses:

  • Money laundering.
  • Bank records.
  • Methods of proving illegal income.
  • Virtual currency.

Broadly, the training promotes financial oversight, including pursuit of tax evasion convictions. The participants gain tools to support their rule-of-law efforts to crack down on organized crime.

During the course, Malta’s Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna said, “We need to rise to the challenge” of combating money laundering and stopping payments to terrorists.