ACAMS Malta Chapter: Virtually Building A Community From Zero

ACAMS Malta Chapter

When we set out to build a new ACAMS Chapter in Malta more than two years ago, in December 2019, we were excited. Malta is a place that values connections and relationships, debate and education. At the time, Malta’s national anti-money laundering/combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) framework was coming under the international spotlight following MONEYVAL’s 2019 Fifth Round Mutual Evaluation Report on Malta. This highlighted the need for an increased professionalisation of AML/CFT roles.

We liked the challenge! Aside from being financial crime nerds, we had all built teams, businesses and other forms of communities, and we were looking forward to doing so once again. It was a pre-pandemic world though, and we did not know what was about to happen.

Online Presence

As we prepared to hold our inaugural chapter event, the world started to go into lockdown. We postponed the event, initially thinking it would be only for a few weeks. We regret that more than two years later, we still have not been able to hold an in-person event. We have made a deliberate effort to not let that stand in the way of building a community of like-minded AML/CFT professionals.

As the world shifted, so did we—to a remote environment. The logistics of planning an event are challenging enough in the “real” world but doing so in a virtual one was both uniquely challenging and encouraging. As board members, we all have jobs, but we volunteered our time. Clients and teams also faced the same challenges, but collectively looked for approaches that would work.

We held four online webinars during 2020 and 2021. We approached our first two events on the topics of money laundering reporting officer (MLRO) as a career and transaction monitoring, respectively. The turnout and interaction were an absolute success. There was a good debate and questions during the event. In addition, the interaction continued for days after the event went to offline communication.

We knew we had established a great community and decided to build on it. As we planned and organised our third and fourth webinars on sanctions and the impact of greylisting in Malta, in particular on the gaming industry, our approach was not to shy away from difficult topics and to be relevant by keeping at the forefront the challenges of operating in a remote environment.

We wanted knowledgeable speakers with different perspec­tives from both the private and public sectors and with global and local backgrounds. After all, what attracts most of us to a career in AML/CFT and to obtaining a CAMS certification is the desire to learn more, to probe and not to accept the easy answer. We covered an incredibly broad set of topics from the changing sanctions landscape to the impact of international developments, such as the change in the US administration and Brexit; in addition to the different approaches to enforcement actions on both authorities and the private sector in Malta. We also candidly discussed what happens when something goes wrong and how to get it right the first time. We talked about the impact that COVID-19 and the COVID-19-related regulations had on AML/CFT efforts and how various firms and institutions adapted. We explored the current and future regulations affecting the gaming industry, the relationship between responsible gaming and compliance, the interface with cryptocurrency and payment services providers and other topics. The participation, interaction and depth of discussion were of high calibre.

Future Priorities

Having built the foundation, we are now looking forward to growing and strengthening our community in 2022.

One of our priorities is to build our social media presence. With all its perils and limitations, social media has the power to convey complex messages to wider audiences and to encourage debate. All of which we believe are key to the continuous development of AML/CFT professionals and their stakeholders. We have a vision for thought-provoking and insightful content across platforms and look forward to the interaction on social media.

We also want to focus on providing our chapter members with tools to build successful careers in AML and mentoring opportunities.

We are planning to hold our first in-person chapter event. We are grateful to our speakers, partners, members and others for their participation in and contribution to the remote events. But nothing will ever replace the warmth and effectiveness of in-person, human interaction. Should circumstances change, we will adapt. For now, we look forward to meeting this beautiful community face-to-face. We are incredibly proud of this community.

For additional information on Malta Chapter events, membership details and upcoming events, please visit the ACAMS Malta Chapter page. 

The Executive Board of Directors, ACAMS Malta Chapter,

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