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Political ‘rivals’ in Malta Files: ‘I will defend them as well’, Muscat says

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says Malta Files attacking Malta’s tax competitiveness, but no illegalities or wrongdoing found

paul_cocks
Paul Cocks
22 May 2017, 11:23am
File photo: Joseph Muscat at a Labour press conference
File photo: Joseph Muscat at a Labour press conference
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he is following all developments related to the Malta Files exposé in the international press, but said he believes Malta is being “attacked” over its competitive edge on taxation.

Muscat today told a press conference that he would defend the country’s reputation, even that of ‘exponents’ like former Central Bank governor Francis J. Vassallo, driving the political point that Vassallo had affiliated himself with the PN by taking a stance on transparency and governance during a party meeting.

“I will defend people like him or the son of former prime minister Lawrence Gonzi, who have been mentioned in the Malta Files,” Muscat said.

David Gonzi was mentioned by outlets reporting on gaming industry links to organised crime, specifically on a past association with the BetUniq group which however saw Gonzi exonerated of any suspicion

Francis J. Vassallo, now a professed knight of the Order of Malta, was mentioned as having rendered services to Italian millionaire Carlo Micheli in L'Espresso, one of the EIC members that worked on the Malta Files
Francis J. Vassallo, now a professed knight of the Order of Malta, was mentioned as having rendered services to Italian millionaire Carlo Micheli in L'Espresso, one of the EIC members that worked on the Malta Files
The Labour leader also said that while he would not speculate about the source of information, he said much of the company information originated from a public register of companies.

“It’s not the end of the world as I see it… nobody is saying Malta is breaching EU directives or that there is any wrongdoing. We have a competitive edge: what’s wrong with that… our register is more transparent than Germany’s or Luxembourg’s, and we don’t give tax rulings like Ireland gave to Apple. Our competitive edge is similar to giving a manufacturing company land on the cheap to encourage it to set up a factory in our country.”

Muscat also said that Malta’s tax system does not discriminate between one company or the other, citing the Commission ruling on the Apple case which was given a zero-tax rate by Ireland.

“That’s why this is a concerted attack on Malta’s system, a system that has been there before Malta was an EU member. We can discuss the morality of payday loan companies, but the question should be whether they should be outlawed across all over the EU – otherwise I don’t see the difference between registering the company in Malta or elsewhere… should Malta prevent Germans or Italians from setting up shop in Malta?

“We are signatories of double taxation and OECD agreements, which means we grant automatic access to tax information to any authority in the world.”]

paul_cocks
Paul Cocks joined MaltaToday after having spent years working in newspapers with The Times...