Working as I do primarily in UK-ish jurisdictions – Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, Gibraltar, etc. – I tend to assume that most AML regimes are much of a muchness. (There is of course the notable exception of the US, which ploughs – or should I say plows – its own furrow on this one, with its Cash Transaction Reports and its list of predicate offences – or should I say offenses.) But today I received an enquiry about AML training in Malta, so I thought I should check before blithely saying yes and packing my swimsuit. And wouldn’t you know it: the Maltese AML regime is rather different.
I may be wrong – and if I am, please do correct me as it was rather difficult to get the definitive picture – but it looks as though there is no Maltese primary offence either of tipping off or of failure to report. The only mention of tipping off is when it is committed by staff of the FIU. Maltese fines are fascinating: if found guilty of money laundering, you can be imprisoned and/or fined between 2,329.37 euros and 2,329,373.40 euros. (I’m not making fun of the legislation – these figures must come from somewhere logical, but it looks so odd written down.) In my quest to ensure that I had understood the situation, I went to the regulator’s website and searched for AML guidance notes – but there was nothing, or xejn as the Maltesers say. Perhaps I should offer my services.
Who knows whether my swimsuit and I will head to Valletta, but the enquiry was a timely reminder to me not to make assumptions about international AML regimes. It also made me wonder why we have these differences anyway: wouldn’t it make more sense to have a global standard of AML, with everyone promoting the same risk-based approach? Differences allow criminals and others to play regulatory – and even legislative – arbitrage to find the simplest way through the system.