Top US official says his country is ‘concerned’ about Malta’s IIP

During an interview with the Sunday Times of Malta, the United States (US) assistant secretary for terrorism financing and Head of the office for financial crimes Marshall Billingslea , said that the US is concerned about Malta’s IIP program. He said that with unemployment being so low, “…one wonders why revenue is needed through such an investment scheme”.

Billingslea said that there are ‘right or wrong’ perceptions about the facility by which individuals can gain access to the Maltese financial system. He added that they are working to make sure that this is no longer the case, adding that the message needs to be clear that Malta is not open to criminal business.  Billingslea told the Sunday Times of Malta that there is an urgent need for collaboration on the corporate formation process and the way that corporate service providers in Malta enable the establishments of companies, and the way those companies are vetted.

Read: MFSA engages American experts to boost its Financial Crime team

“Many of these syndicates operate on a global basis”

Billingslea said that criminal syndicates operate on a global basis and run very sophisticated and complex networks. He also added that “Malta is highly regarded in the international community for the way it cooperates with other jurisdictions”.

The US Official said that he discussed the recently announced news regarding the setting up of a financial crimes agency in Malta. He added that the US will “definitely support” this action, and that there is a strong level of support from the UK as well.

Read: Finance Minister announces “major” reforms to combat financial crime

‘The US is concerned with Malta’s sale of citizenship’

Malta’s sale of passports and citizenship was referred to as a concern to the US. It was said that citizenship-by-investment programmes need careful scrutiny. He added that one might even question why it is necessary in a country like Malta with such a well performing economy. Billingslea said that with regards to virtual currencies, the US expects all countries to rapidly adopt the new FATF standards.

[FATF is an intergovernmental body geared towards fighting financial crime]