Malta’s profitable financial sector and robust credit industry, have made it an increasingly attractive base for international investors. Corporate banks, trade finance, pension planners, payment providers and fintech are among the companies that have made Malta their operational base. The island’s location, South of Italy and North of the African continent means it is in close proximity to financial investors on both continents. It’s EU membership gives it credibility with investors worldwide. Malta’s strong economy, progressive outlook and cost-effective systems have contributed to its reputation as a rapidly developing financial sector.
Malta’s tech-based industry, cutting-edge technology and talented IT workforce across all sectors make it an ideal location for fintech companies. It is also an ideal location for legal and financial graduates and experts in search of exciting new career opportunities. Due to the island’s small size, it lends itself well to experimentation and the testing of new technologies and services. Stringent regulations by Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) mean the industry complies with norms and directives and is well-trusted on a global scale.
In line with the EU’s fifth anti-money laundering directive, all member states must now impose safeguards to tackle financial crime and terrorist financing. Growth in the Fintech and iGaming sectors have created a pressing need for expertise in money laundering. As a result, there is a significant demand for financial supervisors, compliance managers, AML experts and MLROs in Malta.
What is an Anti-Money (AML) Laundering specialist?
An anti-money laundering specialist who has taken specialist training or followed specific courses in anti-money laundering regulations and strategies. Money laundering is the process of concealing the origin of illegally obtained money and making money appear as if it comes from a legitimate source. Anti-money laundering (AML) Is an official set of policies, practices and legislation created and implemented, to prevent or minimise incidences of money laundering.
What is the role of an AML specialist?
An AML specialist may have diverse positions in a company from entry-level compliance admin to senior AML management positions. Essentially, an anti-money laundering expert follows the flow of finances through a financial account. This involves keeping records, arranging, monitoring, possibly reporting suspicious activity to the authorities and making compliance recommendations. The AML specialist gathers information from a variety of sources, sometimes governmental. The data is then assessed, analysed and the findings reported and addressed. AML experts liaise with different agencies and require excellent communication, analytical skills and attention to fine detail.
What is a Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO)?
An MLRO oversees the AML measures in a financial institution and is responsible for responding to any related enquiries. The MLRO has access to financial records and the role involves making important decisions regarding financial crime and money laundering. It is a position that incurs huge responsibility. MLROs must ensure that the financial institution is adhering stringently to AML policies and controls. They must also manage information or suspicion of money laundering and report breaches to the relevant authority. MLROs ensure policies are regularly updated and are often involved in training staff. An MLRO is often responsible for reminding staff of risks that require vigilance.
Which are the principal areas of compliance within finance?
Finance with its rapidly developing fintech and cyber currency sectors encompasses a complex and multi-layered arena. Basically, the principal areas of compliance in anti-money laundering are:
- Financial compliance is normally in accordance with national and international accounting standards
- A financial crime includes anti-money laundering measures and the prevention of fraud. Combatting financial crime means implementing thorough, watertight systems and strong preventative measures
- IT compliance to manage the compliance of cyber security systems and networks
Why is the need to tackle financial crime so urgent?
Money laundering and financial crimes have risen exponentially in recent years. The number of fines imposed on financial institutions for breaches of financial compliance is on the rise.
The generation of criminal finances has a negative impact on businesses, individuals and communities. Individual criminal activities, organised crime and money laundering schemes harm the integrity of institutions and businesses and destabilise nations. They are also activities that often fund terrorism, arms trading and trafficking.
The demand for talent in AML is high and set to increase. The importance of transparency in business, greater emphasis on company reputation along with updated governmental and auditing regulations means there is a greater need for candidates to fill AML positions. The growing importance of data analytics and synthesis, fintech and regtech advancements has opened some excellent possibilities for career choices in AML. It is a rewarding career choice with unique challenges that can really make a difference in society today. The sector attracts law and finance graduates but the diversity of the financial landscape means it also welcomes data experts, cyber experts, mathematicians and experts from other backgrounds. It is possible to follow a postgraduate course in financial compliance and do shorter accredited certifications.
Which sectors need AML and MLRO experts?
Financial Institutions need to follow compliance frameworks and train and support their staff in AML practices and frameworks. To preserve its integrity and remain competitive, they need to stay abreast of new developments and update its systems continually. Financial organisations are responsible for selecting AML software and training staff on how to use it. Their role in assembling evidence of sources of wealth from investors and clients is major. They have a responsibility to monitor transactions on an ongoing basis.
iGaming with high amounts of winnings and large stakes has always created the potential for money laundering activities. Tight legislation in Maltese iGaming companies means firms perform regular risk assessments and keep precise records of how business services can be utilised. Typical measures involve risk classification of customers and vigilance in all business relationships. Regular checking and updating are required to maintain the reputation of the organisation and to stay in line with regulatory requirements.
Cyber Currency. In recent years the rising numbers of clients with virtual assets have shown a rise in cyber money laundering. Illicit funds have been regularly transferred across bitcoin. Crypto has transformed financial infrastructure and disrupted traditional banking systems however its position on the fringes of the traditional financial system has given it appeal to cyber criminals. Understanding its risks and mitigating them is essential. The pseudonymous nature of cyber currency means it is more difficult to find out who has executed transactions. This is an area that demands expertise.
IT and Cybersecurity. Technology has facilitated money laundering and made it more difficult to trace. Working from home possibilities in recent years has seen a rise in the illegal engagement of money mules to help launder money. Phishing, ransomware and malware are all scams where personal and financial data can be compromised and used illegally. Data theft is closely allied to money laundering. Training and educating employees to avoid scams can help protect a company’s financial data. Technological advancements incur levels of risk that need to be assessed and managed.
Software Development. Digital tools to combat money laundering and AML software are rising in market value. This rise is facilitated by financial institutions and governmental bodies and will continue to grow and require software engineers and developers.
As governmental and private agencies work together to sustain and update effective frameworks and investigative strategies to protect global financial systems, cryptocurrencies and online gaming firms, more exciting career opportunities are emerging in this dynamic sector.
For further information on the growing need for AML and MLRO jobs in Malta, feel free to get in touch with Alessandro Binetti.
+356 2034 1700