The FIAU Launches Its Strategy For The Next Four Years

21th November 2022

The Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit has launched its four-year strategy to its public and private partners and to the press. It is the first time in the Unit’s 20-year history that this has been done. The launch coincides with the FIAU’s 20th Anniversary.

In his welcome address during the launch of the FIAU’s strategy the Minister for Finance and Employment Clyde Caruana remarked about the government’s clear commitment to the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Ten years ago, this entity had only 13 employees, with a budget of €380,000. Today, FIAU employs 136 employees, with a budget of €11.5 million.  He said that the new strategy has a clear, forward-looking vision and demonstrates that the FIAU is committed and determined to become more efficient and effective in carrying out its responsibilities.  The role of the FIAU is essential not only to protect this industry from illegal activities but also to raise our country’s reputation in the international sphere.   He concluded by stating that; “The entity is not here to make people’s life miserable but to make sure that the name of this jurisdiction remains reputable in the coming months and years because it is only such that we can make sure that our bargaining position and our leverage at EU level retains high regard.”

This investment allowed the FIAU to engage in a process of change. The changes within the FIAU have not just been in numbers, but in everything the unit does, from basing its operations on the risk-based approach, to how the Unit communicates and engages with its stakeholders and the public. The development and launch of this strategy are testament to this.  In his welcome address, FIAU Director Mr Kenneth Farrugia stated that, “The strategy marks a clear commitment, to work beyond what is necessary to ensure that Malta and its financial sectors are safeguarded from both from ML/FT risks or use as a jurisdiction”. He highlighted that the strategy marks a more proactive FIAU, who for many years was reacting to external reviews and feedback.  Mr Farrugia underlined that, “The FIAU has learnt from its mistakes, every evaluation and process it has been through and is now in a position to map its own future”. It is also an effort to be more transparent in how the FIAU performs its supervisory and enforcement functions, up to where it is legally is possible to do so.

As part of this strategy the first change was moving away from the FIAU’s old ‘Mission Statement’ towards a new perspective which focused more on the regulatory and supervisory functions of the Unit, to a declaration of ‘Our Purpose’ with a broader scope and a focus on collaboration with private and public partners. In fact, in the development phase of this strategy, the FIAU held consultation sessions with these partners. At the same time, more than half its staff were involved at various stages of the strategy’s development. This approach aimed to encourage ownership of the strategy not only by the FIAU’s staff but also to an extent by the partners who helped shape it. The success of the FIAU in performing its functions to combat ML/FT effectively, is not solely dependent on its own efforts, but it requires the support and cooperation of numerous partners, such as the MFSA, MGA, Police, and subject persons.

The strategy which had its inception during the final stages of the efforts to be removed from the grey list (March/April 2022) is ambitious and sets the bar high for the FIAU, yet it is confident that with the passion, hard-work, commitment, and dedication always shown by the FIAU’s team, it can meet the targets and challenges head on.