UPDATE: FATF revealed the four countries which have gone onto its latest grey list on Friday 25 June, here.

The Malta Chamber of SMEs has said the island "hit rock bottom" with the FATF greylisting decision and is calling on the government to make Malta "the AML centre of excellence".

"The only way to turn this around is to become the country of repute when it comes to AML compliance. For a country with limited resources like Malta, reputation was one of the pillars giving us standing. Regaining our reputable stand will not be an easy process, yet it is a must and an urgent one", the organisation said in a forthright statement on 25 June.

"The fact that Malta has carried out an impressive level of effort in order to reach international AML obligations and build its institutions, is something that our organisation is well cognisant of, because our members have lived through it all.

"Businesses, especially small businesses, have experienced a high level of regulatory compliance and costs associated to this, ever since Malta fell under the scrutiny of the EU and that of international players."

The SME Chamber added: "Operating an enterprise in Malta has become very difficult over the last years however this still does not compare to losing Malta's reputation and operating from a grey listed country. Maltese businesses do not want to operate within an economy of shady repute and want their name cleared in the immediate.

"It is now very important to really understand what Malta has missed out on and address the real problems that have landed Malta in this situation in the first place."

Small businesses fear that what will come next from our policy makers will be more of the same and they will continue bearing the brunt for the deplorable actions carried out by a few. The SME Chamber will therefore continue to monitor the situation in close contact with members in the coming days.

The SME Chamber is also currently assessing how the grey listing will further impact the performance of its economy, amongst the most important of which in this case is the functioning and accessibility to banking facilities.

The Malta Chamber of SMEs further said it will make use of all the resources that will become available out of the FATF exercise in order to ensure that the problems are tackled properly and in a timely manner.

"Malta's reputation has now been very badly tarnished and we must all do our utmost to flip this over completely and rebuild Malta's reputation in a way that leaves no room for doubt", it said.

Subscribe to International Investment's free newsletter