Lawyers in Malta Lag Behind in Complying with AML Measures

  • Richard Marley
  • April 14, 2021
  • 3 minutes read
  • 333

Malta obliged the various sectors to comply with risk assessment measures. According to the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, the legal industry is lagging behind in complying with these measures.

Only 57 per cent of the legal businesses had a system for business risk assessment (BRA) in place the previous year which places the legal industry at the bottom of the list of sectors for compliance requirements including credit institutions, gaming companies, service providers, auditors and accountants. 

However, FIAU is driven to gain more compliance management measures from the listed sectors. The overall results indicate that the improvement was seen in every sector as Malta continues to focus on its fight against money laundering terrorism funding. 

Business Risk Assessment is a tool through which the members of the financial services can analyse the risks attached to a client and which measures can ensure minimized risks. This tool is a part of anti-money laundering compliance. 

FIAU reported a significant improvement among real estate agents that shot up to 73% from 40% in a year regarding the Business Risk Assessment.

Credit institutions made it to the top of the list with a 100% increase in having the Business Risk Assessment in place and the financial institutions made it to the second with 94%. 

“The FIAU acknowledges the subject persons’ commitment to engage consultants to assist them in carrying out certain anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism obligations. However, subject persons remain solely responsible for the BRA and most importantly should ensure that they have knowledge of both the content and result of it,” the FIAU said.

The FIAU highlighted that the BRA must not be a side document that the operators are required to fulfil. It must be tailored to represent the business operations, scenarios, and models. 

The financial watchdogs revealed that a number of operators took the help of consultants to carry out the risk assessment and they were responsible and understood the importance of the exercise. 

FIAU analysed one risk assessment and discovered that “An operator listed the application of client due diligence (CDD) measures as a safeguard against risks arising from exposure to politically exposed persons (PEPs).” FIAU added, “This is not sufficient given that CDD measures are to be applied in all circumstances irrespective of the risk level. In cases PEPs, subject persons are expected to define in more detail the type of enhanced due diligence measures to be applied.”