Government sources in Malta have described a sense of "panic" among political, regulatory and law enforcement top brass ever since the FATF's evaluators failed to give the island a clean bill of health in a secret meeting last week, the Times of Malta reported this morning (23 June).

Amid this uncertainty, Malta is said to have held last-ditch talks with the US ahead of a secret vote to be held this afternoon over whether the country is put on a list of untrustworthy financial jurisdictions, the paper said.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global anti-money laundering watchdog, will decide if Malta is placed on the greylist when its plenary votes this afternoon.

Various studies suggest that ending up on the greylist could have far-reaching repercussions on the country's economy, impacting banking, ease of doing business and the island's attractiveness to foreign investors.

Senior government officials have spent the past few days frantically lobbying international partners in a bid to avoid being greylisted, the Times of Malta said.

Sources said that Alfred Camilleri, permanent secretary at the Finance Ministry, had a telephone call with a senior US government official on Monday night (21 June).

The US is understood to be among some of the influential FATF members that have not looked favourably on Malta's efforts to curb major financial crime.

While a select group of senior Maltese government officials will know the result later today, the FATF will not make an official announcement.

And although an FATF news conference is set for Friday (25 June) it is not clear if an official position on Malta will be announced until the final document is published between August and September.