After three years of monitoring by Financial Action Task Force, Albania has been removed from the ‘grey list’ of money laundering and terrorist financing. The news was announced by the government’s number 2, Balluku, who emphasized that the decision was dedicated to government reforms. Fact-checking by Faktoje showed that the real reasons for coming off the ‘grey list’ are mainly related to the government’s withdrawal from fiscal amnesty.
‘….Albania today, in a unanimous vote, came off hte FATF and MONEYVAL gray list.’, stated, among others, the Deputy Prime Minister Belinda Balluku on 27th of October 27, while announcing the decision of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
According to Balluku, the decision to remove Albania from the enhanced monitoring is dedicated to the reform in the Financial Intelligence Unit and the fundamental changes to some laws.
“The comprehensive reform we have already undertaken at the Financial Intelligence Unit, formerly the General Directorate for the Prevention of Money Laundering, has been appreciated. Furthermore, all steps we have taken for the fundamental amendment of some laws that assist this framework have been appreciated along, on the other hand, with the massive digitization of many processes that will ensure transparency today and in the future.”, Balluku argued.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) leads the global action to address money laundering, financing and proliferation of terrorism. On 27th of October, this international body indeed decided to remove Albania from the so-called ‘grey list’ after an additional 3-year monitoring period.
In the report on Albania, the Financial Action Task Force has listed several reasons why the country is no longer part of the grey list, starting with the formalization of the economy and the increased cooperation between institutions.
“The establishment of effective mechanisms for detection and prevention of criminal infiltration into economy, including strengthening the competencies of authorities responsible for taking necessary actions,” is another recommendation that Albania has fulfilled, according to FATF.
The Financial Action Task Force appreciates judicial reform, mentioning as positive the increase in the number of criminal prosecutions as well as confiscations within the framework of the fight against money laundering. The timely handling of requests for legal assistance has also contributed to Albania’s removal from the grey list.
At the end of the report, the Financial Action Task Force also mentions fiscal amnesty.
“FATF welcomes Albania’s commitment to respect FATF principles in the event that Albania presents a fiscal amnesty program in the future,” the report states.
Albania is recommended to continue working with MONEYVAL, the monitoring body of the Council of Europe, to further strengthen the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
Withdrawing from fiscal amnesty, ‘the lifeline salvation’ for Albania
Albania’s removal from the grey list of money laundering and terrorist financing has also garnered attention in the European Commission’s Progress reportfor Albania, published on November 8th. The report emphasizes that the country has made progress in implementing the recommendations of Moneyval and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
‘Albania remained on the FATF list of jurisdictions under enhanced monitoring due to its draft law on Voluntary Asset Declaration (including a fiscal/criminal amnesty)). After the withdrawal of the draft law, in June 2023 FATF decided to propose an on-site visit, which took place in August and led to Albania’s removal from the list in October 2023.’, is written in the progress report.
However, the European Commission emphasizes in the report that Albania must ensure that any future law (including possible fiscal/criminal amnesties) is in line with the EU acquis and with international standards.
Albania’s presence on the grey list of money laundering has been one of its obstacles on the path towards EU integration, as mentioned in several consecutive progress reports by the European Commission for Albania, which Faktoje hasreported duringthe last three years.
What does experts say?
Removal from the money laundering grey list, according to experts, can facilitate incoming payment flows towards Albania and have a positive impact on attracting foreign investments in real estate.
‘Removal from the Grey List helps the mobility and sustainability of the Real Estate market, increasing transaction speed and making the country more attractive for high-quality foreign investments in this field, always in line with anti-money laundering legislation.’, says Reinaldo Pipiria, Director of the Albanian Association of Real Estate Agents (NAREA).
‘The Real Estate sector, together with other closely related sectors, is essential in Albania’s economy and will continue to be a development promoter.’, he adds.
Based on the gathered information, we will categorize Deputy Prime Minister Belinda Balluku’s statement about Albania’s removal from FATF and MONEYVAL grey list as true.