Effective public-private partnerships constitute a key and critical aspect in the global fight against money laundering and terrorism financing, as the prevention and detection of potential ML/TF cases is significantly dependent on the private sector’s implementation of effective AML/CFT programmes.
Public-private partnerships contribute to improving the quality of suspicious reporting, ensuring that subject persons have a good understanding of the ML/TF risks that they are exposed to, and to the identification of opportunities and ways of improving a country’s AML/CFT framework among others.
With this in mind, the FIAU has long been fostering its relationships with the private sector and has, over the years, developed a mature and fruitful public-private partnership programme with different initiatives and on various fronts.
Guidance & Outreach
One of the main pillars of the FIAU’s public-private partnership programme is the provision by the FIAU of guidance and outreach to subject persons; a function of the FIAU that is even set in the Law that established the FIAU, i.e. the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, and that has long been recognized by the FIAU as a key element in promoting and improving AML/CFT compliance in Malta.
Recent developments within the FIAU, including the setting up of a team dedicated to guidance and outreach, enabled the Unit to increase its efforts in ensuring that subject persons in Malta receive adequate guidance through the publication of guidance documents such, as the FIAU’s Implementing procedures, and other initiatives, such as the training seminars organised and delivered by our personnel.
In addition to the extensive work of the FIAU’s Guidance and Outreach team, the FIAU remains in constant dialogue with subject persons and with sector representatives, among other stakeholders. The FIAU continues to respond to queries made by email or over the phone, and often welcomes meetings where these are needed. The FIAU also hosts a number of public-private partnership initiatives throughout the year with the ultimate aim of enhancing the overall standard of compliance in Malta.
AML / CFT Joint Committee
Joint Committee for the Prevention of Money Laundering and Funding of Terrorism
The Joint Committee for the Prevention of Money Laundering and Funding of Terrorism brings together over 30 representatives of subject persons and competent authorities that are involved in combating money laundering and funding of terrorism. The Committee was established in 2003 and meets on an average of three times per year. Through the Joint Committee, the FIAU updates participants on ongoing work, planned projects and legislative developments, and encourages discussion on common concerns and suggestions in the joint fight against money laundering and terrorism financing. The Joint Committee also assists the FIAU in consultation exercises relating to proposed legal amendments and guidance documents.
AML / CFT Consultants Forum
AML/CFT Consultants Forum
The AML/CFT Consultants Forum which was set up by the FIAU in 2019 is an informal meeting space bringing together a select number of persons and entities that provide AML/CFT consultancy or advisory services to subject persons, together with FIAU representatives. The FIAU recognizes that AML/CFT consultants are uniquely positioned between the subject persons and the regulator, giving them a precise understanding of the issues faced by subject persons in the implementation of their AML/CFT obligations, be they day-to-day or extraordinary issues. The Forum provides a space for candid discussion on such matters, and is likewise used, from time-to-time, to assist in consultation exercises.
The AML/CFT Clinics consist of an outreach initiative launched in 2021 to assist Maltese credit institutions in meeting their AML/CFT obligations.
Credit institutions are invited to send beforehand anonymised practical scenarios they come across during their day-to-day tasks and about which they require guidance from an AML/CFT perspective. The cases submitted are then presented by the FIAU officials during these periodical meetings together with the requested AML/CFT guidance.
The AML/CFT Clinics serve as a focal point to address any AML/CFT-related issues encountered by the banking sector and to further foster cooperation between the FIAU and the local banking sector.
The FIAU has always sought ways in which to provide guidance to the private sector on identifying and reporting suspicious transactions and activity. One of the measures taken by the FIAU in this regard is the establishment of a feedback mechanism on the quality and outcome of STRs submitted by subject persons.
The feedback on the quality of a submission informs subject persons on whether the necessary information was provided in their STR, and if not, where the STR fell short in terms of the information that should have been included. This feedback enables subject persons to improve their internal and external reporting procedures and the quality of their suspicious transaction reports. Receiving high-quality STRs is particularly important as it enables the Unit to reach a quicker determination on the course of action required with STRs it receives.
The FIAU also provides feedback to the reporting entities on the outcome of their submission. This feedback is provided spontaneously by the FIAU but can also be requested by reporting entites to provide feedback at any point following the submission of a STR. Through this feedback mechanism, subject persons are informed whether their submission resulted or contributed to any dissemination made by the FIAU to national competent authorities or foreign counterparts.
In 2019, approximately 75% of the STRs closed by the Unit resulted in the dissemination of intelligence to national competent authorities or the FIAU's international counterparts. This feedback, which is welcomed by subject persons, provides some visibility to subject persons on the outcome of their STR and helps in encouraging subject persons to submit further reports when there is a suspicion of ML/TF.
A more recent initiative under the FIAU’s public-private partnership programme is the setting up of the Financial Intelligence Reporting Partnership or FINREP. During 2019, the FIAU held at its offices the first ever meeting of FINREP together with a select number of banks. FINREP has as its core and primary mission that of creating a platform for credit institutions and the FIAU to collectively discuss and identify new money laundering or terrorism financing trends and typologies, and to carry out joint analysis projects with a view to proactively identifying suspicious transactions or activity.
FINREP also seeks to harness and tap into the vast experience of seasoned AML/CFT banking practitioners and to propose innovative solutions to improve Malta’s capability in combating money laundering and funding of terrorism.
Feedback to AML CDD IT System Providers
The FIAU often receives requests from companies and start-ups seeking to demonstrate the features of new or upcoming software services designed to assist in various aspects of AML/CFT obligations. The FIAU does not approve or endorse any third party services, but such meetings are nevertheless mutually beneficial as on the one hand, the FIAU assists with interpretations of certain AML/CFT obligations where needed. On the other hand, they allow the FIAU to remain up-to-date with the state of technological developments. This translates to guidance that is more flexible and in tune with the type of software solutions that are available in the market.