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Offshore gambling hub Gibraltar has been struck off the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list of jurisdictions.

The FATF keeps a list of jurisdictions that require increased monitoring to fulfil their anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing obligations. This is often unofficially termed the “grey list”.

After an FATF plenary today (23 February) in Paris, the inter-governmental organisation opted to remove Gibraltar from the list.

This was widely expected, with the body reporting the territory had “substantially completed” its action plan in October 2023. This came despite insufficient progress having been made to fully exit the list in time for its original May 2023 deadline.

The body noted “significant progress” in addressing the strategic AML/CTF deficiencies identified in previous evaluations.

As such, the peninsular will no longer be subject to the FATF’s increased monitoring process.

“The jurisdiction was happy to receive the decision of the FATF Plenary that Gibraltar no longer requires enhanced monitoring by the FATF,” Gibraltar gambling commissioner and executive director Andrew Lyman told NEXT.io.

“There is a sense of jurisdictional relief about removal from the grey list, but also a sense of pride that a big team effort, together with a political will to facilitate change and allocate resource has helped to demonstrate that Gibraltar is a well managed and fully compliant financial centre.”

Presence on the grey list can lead to increased compliance obligations for registered businesses in the jurisdiction, as well as making it harder to access certain financial structures.

“The FATF’s grey list process is not punitive, it is a tool to highlight to countries the fundamental gaps in their AML/CFT system that facilitate crime and enable illicit finance so that they can work closely with the FATF to address these gaps,” said FATF president T. Raja Kumar.

“This is very welcome news and I am delighted that our continued and ongoing work and political commitment to future development has been recognised,” said Gibraltar chief minister the Hon Fabian Picardo KC MP.

“I am grateful to all the agencies and authorities that have contributed to this work as well as the private sector that has wholeheartedly joined us in our fight against economic crime. Gibraltar’s FATF white listing not only enhances our reputation but also strengthens our position as a trusted and compliant international financial centre.”

Gibraltar first appears on list in June 2022

The global anti-money laundering body first placed Gibraltar on the list after the June 2022 plenary, the same meeting that saw Malta removed from the grey list.

In its remarks, the FATF highlighted the territory’s online gambling industry as the principal reason for its presence on the list.

The FATF urged Gibraltar to take steps to improve its AML regime. This included by focusing on the “gatekeepers” of the financial system, as well as on gambling operators and lawyers.

The body also said the British Overseas Territory had historically failed in applying sufficient fines for AML failings.

After placing Gibraltar on the list, the FATF set an action plan with a May 2023 deadline for completion.

However, in October 2023, the body said that all deadlines had now “expired” with insufficient progress having been made to exit the list.

By the October plenary, only one item remained to be completed to fully actioned in order to leave the grey list.

As such, the FATF noted Gibraltar’s progress. However, the intergovernmental body highlighted further work was required.

Gibraltar’s failure to exit the list in the October 2023 plenary ignited a political row within the country, with the centre-right Gibraltar Social Democrats (GSD) slamming the government’s “underwhelming” delisting plan.

The government in response criticised the GSD for “political opportunism” with the grey list.

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