SBC News MGA 2021 agenda led  by heightened AML & CFT duties

MGA 2021 agenda led  by heightened AML & CFT duties

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has published its Annual Report, providing a breakdown of its supervisory activities, regulatory objectives and policy initiatives undertaken during the financial year ending 31 December 2021. 

The report outlines the MGA’s evaluation of achievements and performance governing its licence holders who operate across multiple European online gambling jurisdictions.

2021 saw the MGA carry out 54 on-site compliance audits of operators, combined with a further 230 ‘desktop reviews’. The regulator cited that it had achieved an audit coverage of 65% of its licence holders during the year.

Supervisory activities saw the MGA issue 64 warnings, leading to a cancellation of seven licences, as its compliance audits registered 31 administrative penalties and three regulatory settlements that summoned collective fines totalling €176,000.

Tougher monitoring by Malta’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIAU) led to enforcement measures being applied on 10 licensees who were further reprimanded with MGA-sanctioned penalties of €863,000.

A total of 13 individuals and companies were deemed to have failed ‘fit and proper assessments carried out by the regulatory, ‘mainly on the basis of mitigating the risks of money laundering or funding of terrorism’.

2021 saw the MGA heighten the due-diligence monitoring of its licences, in which the regulator undertook ‘criminal probity screening checks’ of over 1150 individuals who are shareholders, management and key employees of registered businesses.

Further AML directives saw MGA conduct 91 interviews with the Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO) of licence holders on AML/CFT functions and to determine operator capabilities on compliance duties for the markets in which they operate.  

A sectoral risk assessment on AML and CFT risks affecting online gambling was undertaken by the Maltese government as a duty required by its action plan to remove Malta from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list.

Improvements in efficiency and effectiveness saw the MGA outline seven objectives achieved during 2021 including regulatory amendments on player protections, that included a provision to “streamline the minimum Return-to-Player percentage applicable to licensees across all sectors.

Further efficiency directives saw the MGA expand the applicability of suspicious betting reporting requirements on B2B licensees.

Regulatory oversight was boosted by the MGA establishing a dedicated Business Transformation Team, tasked with evaluating regulatory procedures, reducing administrative burdens and improving efficiencies where possible.

The MGA continued to expand its international cooperation duties, in which it participated in 20 different investigations across the globe relating to the manipulation of sports competitions or breaches in sports rules.

MGA CEO Dr Carl Brincat said: “As an organisation, beyond continuing to ensure that we meet our day-to-day objectives, we used 2021 to start laying the groundwork for improvements that we will see in the months and years to come.”

“It is a priority for us to move towards leaner and more efficient processes, to remove unnecessary bureaucracy which introduces burdens on the industry without providing added value, and to become more effective in achieving our regulatory priorities.”

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