Malta’ strategy to become a worldwide enclave for crypto assets appears to be working, via tax regulatory oversight has raised concerns over money laundering along with other financial-related crimes.
Roughly $71 Bln, or 60 Bln euros, worth of digital assets have been approved via Malta since the small Mediterranean state primarily adopted its “blockchain island” strategy earlier in 2017, the Times of Malta reported earlier on Sunday. Although Malta has upgraded its crypto-focused regulations in recent years, financial watchdogs are concerned about whether the nation’s AML [Anti-Money Laundering] regime has been robust enough.
The FATF [Financial Action Task Force], met in Paris last week to debate whether Malta should be placed beneath the list of nations that have fallen in need of their obligations to prevent financial crime. Specifically, the financial watchdog cares about Malta’s initial push to embrace crypto assets in 2017 and 2018 when the world was far less regulated. FATF officials also expressed concerns over the country’s enforcement regime.
Several blockchain companies established operations in Malta since 2018, along with the cryptocurrency exchange Binance, in anticipation of more favorable laws. Companies that set up businesses within the country were allowed to work without a license for a year. An industry source told the Time of Malta that the one-year grace period contributed to “an explosion of high-risk transactions administered by cryptocurrency exchanges in an unlicensed environment.”
Nevertheless, Malta remains considered a positive destination for cryptocurrency-related asset firms. As reported, Crypto.com recently acquired Malta’s Class 3 Virtual Financial Asset License, paving the way for broader recognition of crypto assets across the EU.
Also earlier in June last year, Malta broadened its blockchain ambitions, pivoting to digital assets more holistically as to how to drive adoption and business growth. “We’re moving far away from blockchain island, and more towards a digital island as we believe more within this holistic vision that has all aspects and technological components,” Kearon Bruno, chairman of Digital Economy Think Tank tasked with growing Malta’s economic portfolio, explained at the time of interview.