The MGA’s AML/CFT Supervisory Functions

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) acts as the supervisory authority over the land-based and the remote gaming sectors in terms of the Prevention of Money Laundering and Funding of Terrorism Regulations (S.L. 373.01 of the Laws of Malta) (PMLFTR) and is thus considered an ‘agent’ of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) in terms of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (Cap. 373 of the Laws of Malta) (PMLA). More specifically, the MGA is responsible for monitoring compliance of casino and gaming licensees with the PMLA, the PMLFTR and any Implementing Procedures or guidance issued thereunder, and for reporting non-compliance with the same to the FIAU.

The MGA has a vested interest to ensure that licences are issued or renewed only if it is reasonably satisfied that the applicant has the necessary policies, procedures and systems in place to effectively manage any AML/CFT risks inherent within its business, and that all the persons involved in the applicant company are fit and proper persons.

To this end, the applicant is required to provide the MGA with the necessary due diligence documents in respect of its beneficial owners, directors and key functions. This due diligence exercise ensures the suitability of all persons involved in the conduct of gaming operations in and from Malta. As an additional measure, an applicant for the key AML/CFT function, also appointed by the company to hold the MLRO role, would need to undergo an appraisal which is aimed at assessing the applicant’s competence and knowledge to occupy such role.

The MGA’s supervisory functions, however, go beyond initial onboarding and are exercised on an ongoing basis. In view of this, an AML Unit was set up in 2018, comprising of a team of AML/CFT specialists, whose primary responsibility is to conduct supervisory examinations on gaming licensees, jointly or on behalf of the FIAU. The scope of these examinations is to assess the licensees’ compliance with the AML/CFT obligations and the implementation of their AML/CFT policies, measures, controls and procedures. The examination process is three-fold and involves documentation review and analysis, the interviewing of licensee representatives as well as the testing of a sample of customers. The supervisory plans for such examinations are devised on a risk-based approach and jointly agreed with the FIAU.

The MGA constantly supports the FIAU with the publications of guidelines such as the sector specific Implementing Procedures. The MGA also provides training sessions, discussions and forums to educate further the sector on AML/CFT matters. As an authority, the MGA collaborates closely with other regulators, international governmental organisations and national competent authorities, such as the Asset Recovery Bureau (ARB), the Sanctions Monitoring Board (SMB) and the National Coordinating Committee on Combating Money Laundering and Funding of Terrorism (NCC) for intelligence sharing purposes and to align international and national standards of approach.