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Malta receives the clear from FATF – Gibraltar not so lucky

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Malta received the green light being removed from the FATF grey list. Gibraltar has just been added to the list.


For gaming authorities, there are just as many regulations and guidelines to follow as there are for online casino operators.

The Malta Gaming Authority has seen some negative headlines, with its name added to the FATF in recent months. Now Malta has finally managed to get its name removed, while Gibraltar sees its name added to the list.

Charges on the MGA

For the Malta Gaming Authority, it's been a rocky road back to freedom and getting off the FATF grey list. First, they were added to the list for some questionable conduct regarding finances. Then their former Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Jason Farrugia and his wife Christine Farrugia were charged with several financial crimes.

The crimes include money laundering, fraud, accepting bribes, and abusing his leadership position as CTO of the MGA. Some of the additional charges include fraud of over €5,000, along with the disclosing of confidential information.

The MGA has released a statement saying that the employment relationship with Mr Farrugia was terminated in December 2021 following an internal investigation into these alleged wrongdoings. Both Mr Farrugia and his wife have pleaded not guilty but have been denied bail.

The MGA, Gibraltar, and the Philippines

The FATF is a global anti-money laundering body that keeps a list of all the jurisdictions that are under increased monitoring. This is known as the grey list as they have been found to suspect some wrongdoings or frowned upon financial activity.

The Malta Gaming Authority was on the grey list due to financial misconduct but has since been removed. While the MGA is being removed from the list, Gibraltar has found its way onto the list.

With its addition to the list, the officials in Gibraltar are adopting a plan of action to resolve the issue so that players can enjoy casinos licensed by the Gibraltar Gambling Commission.

The FATF chair, Marcus Pleyer explains that Gibraltar will need to take several steps, including focusing on gatekeepers to the financial system such as gambling operators and lawyers. Currently, supervisors are not applying sufficient fines for anti-money laundering failings.

It's vital for the authority to get things up to speed as the gambling sector in Gibraltar is large and specifically aimed at foreign jurisdictions.

MGA's three-prong action plan

In June 2021, Malta was added to the list of jurisdictions subject to increased monitoring, along with the Philippines, Haiti, and South Sudan. FATF elaborated on the list, stating that only those with strategic deficiencies in their regimes to counter money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing are added to the list.

When Malta was added to the list, the FATF also presented the region with an action plan focusing on three prongs. The first of the points demonstrated that beneficial ownership information is accurate, while the other two focused on increasing and more clearly defining the role of its Financial Intelligence Unit.

In March 2022, the organisation made an update saying that Malta has made substantial progress in completing the action plan by making reforms. This includes increasing the use of the Financial Intelligence Unit's (FIU) services to pursue money laundering and criminal tax cases.

More work to be done

The FATF's opinion was that an on-site review was requisite to ensure all AML measures were being implemented. Now that the review is complete, Malta is finally off the grey list.

Pleyer reveals that this doesn't get Malta out of the fire zone. In the future, the FATF encourages Malta to keep improving its system as the FATF will continue to keep watch.

As for the Philippines and Gibraltar, who are currently on the list, there is now tons of work to be done. The Philippines need to implement a seven-point action plan, of which one point focuses specifically on casino junkets.

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