Article in local newspaper turns the spotlight on Malta's financial services and online gambling industries
A newspaper article about "suspected" international money laundering transactions taking advantage of Malta's vibrant financial brokerage services and online gambling regulatory regime has evoked a response from the newly appointed chief of the Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) Joe Cuschieri.
In a long article, Malta Today discussed the 29 "suspected" financial transactions involving Malta that were reported in 2013 to police on the Mediterranean island and to Malta's financial intelligence analysis unit (FIAU).
The FIAU told the newspaper in a general comment that the most popular instances of suspected offences involved the use of Maltese companies and banks by foreign nationals, as vehicles to launder the proceeds of criminal funds generated outside Malta.
"As observed in 2012, the use of companies licensed by the LGA to operate in the remote gaming sector also featured in a number of cases referred to the police for investigation. Similarly, companies licensed or authorised by the MFSA (financial services authority) to provide services were identified as having potentially been used to disguise the origin of criminal proceeds," the FIAU noted.
LGA chief executive Joe Cuschieri told the newspaper that his regulatory body works closely with the FIAU and law enforcement agencies whenever suspected money laundering transactions are brought to its attention through intelligence reports.
All intelligence reports are investigated and reported to the police for further investigations when appropriate, he stressed.
"This report refers to suspected transactions and not concrete proof of actual money laundering or criminal activity taking place in the gaming industry," Cuschieri commented. "As part of our anti-money laundering compliance procedures and controls we continuously monitor our licensees for any suspected transactions to ensure that Malta remains a reputable jurisdiction for remote gaming.
"Furthermore, as a supervisory authority, we comply with all domestic anti-money laundering regulations by submitting suspicious transaction reports to the FIAU. The LGA fully cooperates with the police when the latter requests information whenever there is an ongoing criminal investigation and also when the police are requested from foreign law enforcement authorities to provide information regarding gaming companies based in Malta."
Cuschieri went on to detail due diligence and probity checks on applicants for LGA licensing, and said that individuals involved in the gaming sector are closely monitored to make sure that the fit and proper test is satisfied at all times.
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