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Issue papers of interest from time to time such as for example on the Role of Compliance Officers in FinServ in Malta


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Issue of position papers/reactions to proposed legislation/regulation. Social events.


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The mission of MACO is to create professional education and knowledge standards for Compliance Officers serving in the Maltese financial services sector, enrich the professional culture and enhance both Maltese and international relations and alliances.

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Insight News

May 22, 2018

Is the sun setting on BOTs’ tax haven status?

An amendment to the Sanctions and Anti Money Laundering Bill was approved by the British government in May. The headline news from the amendment was that from 2020 British Overseas Territories (BOT) will be obliged to publish the beneficial owner(s) of all registered companies.     The bill will require companies registered in BOTs to sign up to a public register that will reveal the beneficial owner of the company. It has the potential to cause embarrassment for firms that have deliberately organised their affairs so as to obscure the beneficial owner. On the other hand, it will attempt to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing, and expose those who use BOTs to avoid paying tax.     The bill is due to undergo the protocol of seeking royal approval but after this formality it will be stamped into UK law. There has been quite significant opposition from the territories, perhaps understandably, as a substantial chunk of the islands’ business is garnered via their status as tax havens. Exempt from the law will be Britain’s crown dependencies Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.    Transparency International UK , Global Witness and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) all welcomed the surprise news (TI UK calling it an end to ‘the UK’s role as a safe haven for dirty money’) but support for the bill has not been all one way, and the most vociferous opponents have come from the regions affected. Some in the BOTs have questioned whether it is in Britain’s interest to demand greater transparency from the territories in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union and the attendant economic concerns that Brexit poses.   Similarly, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) – whose members include Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas , along with five associate-member crown dependencies that will be affected by the law – released a statement before the debate in Parliament stressing that the crown dependencies’ economies would be damaged by such a law. More strongly worded were the comments from Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin who described the bill as ‘colonial despotism’ . McLaughlin confirmed the Islands are considering legally contesting the bill.   McLaughlin’s point is one that on the face of it needs no further evaluation: the argument goes that a transparency law will put off those potentially willing to arrange their tax affairs overseas in these territories. Probe a little deeper, however, and other questions emerge: in this age of increasing transparency is it not unrealistic to expect that BOTs are exempt? Will the damage to BOT economies be as harsh as feared? Will it not encourage the BOTs to explore new ways of attracting investment?     The reality is that the Panama and Paradise Papers leaks, on top of laundromats, Russian and Azerbaijani , have raised the public demand for more transparency when it comes to companies and individuals putting money into overseas territories, something to which the British government is responding. There is certainly a general feeling that the pre-financial crisis secrecy when arranging tax overseas has been consigned to history.    Yet it would be foolish to assume that this is the end of offshore tax affairs . MP James Duddridge acknowledged this by suggesting that companies currently based in the BOTs for tax purposes would simply up sticks to Delaware. Realistically, what could the British government do to stop that? Despite this flaw the announcement of the bill is a positive step in the right direction to stem financial crime. -   This article forms part of the #BigCompConvo - Join us as we explore and debate the latest challenges and issues facing you and regulatory and financial crime compliance professionals all over the world. If you’d like to contribute an article as part of the  Big Compliance Conversation get in touch with us at Studying with the Jamaica Institute of Financial Services (JIFS), our approved training partner. The Jamaica Institute of Financial Services is committed to providing cutting-edge programmes for the continuous building of human and organizational capability in the practice of banking, investments and finance, through research and professional development of knowledgeable, ethical, proactive and customer-driven professionals. Our partnership spans over a decade, so you can be assured that your education is in safe hands. Find out more
May 9, 2018

International news and developments – April 2018

UK Region FCA publishes its Business Plan for 2018/19 UK overseas territories could be forced to introduce beneficial ownership registers Barclays boss faces penalty for ‘conduct breach’ FCA faces £30m Brexit bill Chancellor leads global crackdown on dirty money FCA speech on Blockchain: considering the risks to consumers and competition FCA speech on Payments after PSD2: evolution or revolution UK Finance and KPMG release report Staying Ahead of Cybercrime   EMEA Region European Commission publishes statement on the adoption of 5MLD   European Commission proposes new standards to protect whistleblowers European Commission presents new measures to deny terrorists and criminals the means and space to act MEPs vote to shed light on the true owners of companies FATF publishes Mutual Evaluation Report of Iceland Paradise Papers: Ukraine crime gang hid proceeds in luxury London flats French billionaire dubbed ‘king of Africa’ subject to corruption inquiry New AML strategy for Malta Trump praises Qatar’s counter financing of terrorism efforts   APAC Region Firm facing $2.6m fine under money laundering, terrorism financing laws ANZ fined A$3m for advice client review failings   North America Region FinCEN issues FAQs on CDD rule US Treasury releases report highlighting regulatory reform accomplishments Canada announces remediation agreements and orders to address corporate crime Citigroup is looking to staff up its anti-money laundering unit with bitcoin pros   LATAM Region Brazil President may have used family assets to launder money De-banking Caribbean countries offers no justice, Antigua PM Brazilian former President Lula locked up for money laundering Caribbean countries don’t believe beneficial ownership public register good for overseas territories   Africa African Development Bank organizes Workshop on Strengthening Role of Parliament in Combating Illicit Financial Flows from Africa Central Bank of Kenya issues guidance note on conducting money laundering/terrorism financing risk assessment   Misc. Transparency International reviews G20 promises on ending anonymous companies FATF holds annual Private Sector Consultative Forum FATF President delivers speech on blocking terrorists financial flows   OECD publishes public comments on misuse of residence by investment schemes to circumvent the Common Reporting Standard
May 7, 2018

EU fifth anti money laundering directive (5MLD)

A recent vote at the European Parliament has resulted in a fifth update to the EU’s anti money laundering directive . This update is partly a response to the terrorist attacks of 2015 and 2016 in Paris and Brussels, as well as the Panama Papers leaks, and comes less than a year after the fourth anti money laundering directive (4MLD) was embedded into national laws across the EU.   The update is designed to bring more transparency to improve the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing by: enhancing the powers of EU financial intelligence units (FIUs) to identify who really owns companies and trusts through beneficial ownership registers; preventing risks associated with the use of virtual currencies for terrorist financing and limiting the use of pre-paid cards; improving the safeguards for financial transactions to and from high-risk third countries; ensuring there are centralised national bank and payment account registers or central data retrieval systems in all member states, which can also be accessed by FIUs.   Here’s an insight into some of the changes put forward in this fifth and latest update.   Improving transparency on the real owners of companies   The beneficial ownership registers for legal entities, such as companies, will be public. This wider access to part of the beneficial ownership information will enhance public scrutiny and will contribute to preventing the misuse of legal entities for money laundering and terrorist financing purposes. The reforms – giving citizens the right to access information on the beneficial owners of firms which operate in the EU – could help quash the corrupt use of letterbox companies created to launder money, hide wealth and avoid paying taxes, a practice which received widespread attention in the wake of the Panama Papers.    An additional measure would also open up data on beneficial owners of trusts and similar arrangements to those who can demonstrate a ‘legitimate interest’. This would make information on trusts available to investigative journalists and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Member states will also retain the right to provide broader access to information, in accordance with their national law.     Improving transparency on trusts   The access to data on the beneficial owner of trusts will be accessible without any restrictions to competent authorities, FIUs and the professional sectors subject to anti money laundering rules (banks, lawyers, etc.) and will be accessible to other persons who can demonstrate a legitimate interest. In addition, when a trust is a beneficial owner of a company, access to this information can be requested via a written request.   Better connection of the beneficial ownership registers   The national registers on beneficial ownership information will be interconnected directly to facilitate cooperation and exchange of information between member states. In addition, member states will have to put in place verification mechanisms of the beneficial ownership information collected by the registers to help improve the accuracy of the information and the reliability of these registers.   Lifting the anonymity on electronic money products (pre-paid cards) and virtual currencies   Member states will have the possibility to allow the anonymous use of electronic money products only in two situations: when customers use their pre-paid instrument (such as pre-paid cards) directly in the shop for a maximum transaction amount of €150, and when customers carry out an online transaction with a pre-paid card below €50.   The new measures also address risks linked to pre-paid cards and virtual currencies. In a bid to end the anonymity associated with virtual currencies , virtual currency exchange platforms and custodian wallet providers will, like banks, have to apply customer due diligence controls, including customer verification requirements.   These platforms and providers will also have to be registered, as will currency exchanges and cheque cashing offices, and trust or company services providers.   Other measures agreed as part of the update include: tougher criteria for assessing whether non-EU countries pose an increased risk of money laundering and closer scrutiny of transactions involving nationals from risky countries (including the possibility of sanctions); protection for whistle-blowers who report money laundering (including the right to anonymity); an extension of the directive to cover all forms of tax advisory services, letting agents and art dealers, as well as electronic wallet providers and virtual currency exchange service providers.   Extending anti money laundering and counter financing of terrorism rules to virtual currencies, tax related services, works of art   The rules will now apply to entities which provide services that are in charge of holding, storing and transferring virtual currencies, to persons who provide similar kinds of services to those provided by auditors, external accountants and tax advisors which are already subject to the 4MLD  and to persons trading in works of art. These new actors will have to identify their customers and report any suspicious activity to the FIUs.   Improving checks on transactions involving high-risk third countries   Member states will have to ensure that the sectors dealing with countries presenting strategic deficiencies in their anti money laundering and counter financing of terrorism regimes listed by the European Commission apply systematic enhanced controls on the financial transactions from and to these countries. The list of checks is now harmonised to ensure there are no loopholes in the EU. In addition, the listing of the Commission will include third countries with low transparency on beneficial ownership information, no appropriate and dissuasive sanctions or which do not cooperate nor exchange information.   Setting up centralised bank account registers or retrieval systems   Member states will be required to set up centralised bank account registers or retrieval systems to identify holders of bank and payment accounts. The Commission will work on the technical aspects to ensure the interconnection of such registers or retrieval systems.   Enhancing the powers of EU FIUs and facilitating their cooperation   The FIUs will have access to more information through centralised bank and payment account registers or data retrieval systems. The FIUs from the different EU countries will also be able to cooperate more easily, as well as with other competent authorities.   Enhancing cooperation between financial supervisory authorities   In light of the revelations of the Panama Papers, the revised directive will further enhance the exchange of information and cooperation between financial supervisory authorities in full respect of their confidentiality rules, including with the European Central Bank.   The updated directive will enter into force three days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. The timeline for implementing these changes into national legislation will be around 18 months.   - The ICA Certificate in Anti Money Laundering provides an excellent introduction to anti money laundering and is a good basis for further study in the subject. This course is awarded in association with Alliance Manchester Business School, the University of Manchester.    This article forms part of the #BigCompConvo - Join us as we explore and debate the latest challenges and issues facing you and regulatory and financial crime compliance professionals all over the world. If you’d like to contribute an article as part of the Big Compliance Conversation get in touch with us at

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