Scicluna speaks to Berlin press to challenge German ‘offshore’ claims

Maltese finance minister Edward Scicluna to meet German press in Berlin to challenge German minister’s ‘offshore’ claims

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
16 May 2017, 12:59pm
Scicluna will also be holding talks with the German Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble at the Federal Finance Ministry.
Scicluna will also be holding talks with the German Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble at the Federal Finance Ministry.
Finance minister Edward Scicluna will address the German press in Berlin to challenge comments made by a North Rhine Westphalia minister about company formations in Malta.

The German state minister, Norbert Walter-Borjans, claied that a data leak of company information from the Maltese registry of companies, had revealed “70,000 offshore companies”, leading him to dub the island “the Panama of Europe”.

Scicluna has callenged the assertion, citing the fact that the Maltese register actually has over 70,000 companies, information of which is arleady publicly accessible.

Walter-Borjans said the data included information about several German corporations and up to 2,000 German taxpayers. He said the NRW government would be passing on data about foreign corporations mentioned in the leak to their respective governments. 

“The data reveals how corporations and private persons on the Mediterranean island use company braids to bypass tax in Germany in a big way,” the state minister said. “This is partially done with legal tricks, but often also by means of offshore companies, which serve exclusively as tax evasion constructions.”

Scicluna dismissed Walter-Borjan’s claims as hyperbole. “Pull another one,” Prof. Scicluna wrote on Twitter. “Since when the whole Maltese company register of Maltese registered companies becomes foreign, offshore and German?”

Today, the minister said he will speak to the press over what he said were “baseless and highly damaging, fabricated allegations” in the German media, “with the clear intent of discrediting the Maltese financial services industry.”

Scicluna said he will refer to the baseless information, including video footage which appeared on NET TV, “containing fake news from Maltese sources whose sole intent is the crippling of the financial services industry.”

“This is being done by individuals who are obsessed with maliciously scoring points on the local political scene, with utter disregard for the truth and the livelihoods of thousands of families depending on an industry which has been painstakingly cultivated through cross-party collaboration over the years.”

Scicluna will also be holding talks with the German Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble at the Federal Finance Ministry.

Malta operates a full imputation tax system, with companies taxed at a standard 35% rate but shareholders' dividends subject to an 85% rebate on tax paid, effectively bringing the payable tax rate down to 5%. 

Maltese governments have stridently defended this system throughout the years

The number of Maltese companies registered over the years has reached around 80,000, of which, 53,000 were still on the register. The others had been dissolved or struck off.Edward Sci

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.