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PN condemns Scicluna’s FIAU comments: ‘elections don’t cancel out illegalities’

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna has suggested that FIAU reports were penned with an intent to be leaked to the press – the PN has condemned his comments

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
13 June 2017, 2:05pm
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna
The Nationalist Party took issue with claims by finance minister Edward Scicluna that he suspected Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit officers wrote reports on alleged money laundering suspicions with an intent that they be leaked to the press.

Scicluna’s comment was made in the light of three reports by the FIAU’s former director Manfred Galdes filed with the Commissioner of Police dealing with banking practices inside Pilatus Bank, as well as monies received by Keith Schembri, the prime minister’s chief of staff.

Scicluna said that the FIAU, whose board is chaired by the Attorney General, had to explain how damning reports probing alleged kickbacks were leaked. “What is money laundering? What was ignored? I want to know whether they [the authors of the report] were really apolitical. [I want to know] whether there are characters on whichever side who turned their heads away,” Scicluna said ahead of a meeting in Strasbourg where MEPs will debate the rule of law in Malta.

The PN said Scicluna’s comments were “very worrying”.

“Instead of seeing what criminal steps would be taken on the FIAU reports, Scicluna seems on intent on taking issue with who leaked these reports. The PN condemns these comments and demand that he give a full account of how many investigations are taking place and to publish their conclusions at the earliest possible,” the party said.

“Labour’s electoral victory does not mean the law is not equal for everyone. No election cancels out the reasonable suspicion the FIAU found that Schembri was involved in a crime of bribery and money laundering. The same goes for Konrad Mizzi. Scicluna’s duty is not to threaten those who worked on these investigations, but to ensure the law is equal for all.”

The FIAU carried out a compliance visit at Pilatus Bank, after which its executive director penned three preliminary reports to the Commissioner of Police dealing with an alleged €100,000 payment from Nexia BT partner Brian Tonna to Keith Schembri, as well as some €650,000 in payments paid by Schembri to former Allied Group manager Adrian Hillman through the use of offshore companies. Excerpts from a third report, as yet unfinished, suggest that the owners of the LNG tanker paid money into a Dubai company that could have been connected to Schembri’s and Mizzi’s offshore Panama companies.

Scicluna said that the FIAU had to explain why certain “characters” had been mentioned in their reports and not others. “Were these reports written to be leaked? I’m just asking questions. For the sake of the rule of law one has to be rest assured that we can have a strong institution.”

Prof. Scicluna said the claims will also be examined by Moneyval [Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism at the Council of Europe], and the Financial Sector Assessment Programme FSAP. 

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.