Greens want Malta to be investigated over breach of EU money laundering laws

German MEP Sven Giegold: 'Malta is now widely seen as a tax haven... its democracy is sliding towards Hungary's levels'

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
14 June 2017, 2:40pm
The European Greens have written to the European Commission to request an investigation on Malta for potential infringements of the EU’s money laundering laws.

German MEP Sven Giegold said that the Maltese police force’s failure to act on a number of damning reports by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) could place Malta in breach of the EU’s money laundering directives.

Moreover, he said that the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) could have breached the EU’s capital requirements directive when it granted a banking license to Pilatus Bank despite the latter’s failure to prevent money laundering.

He also called on the Maltese Parliament to set up its own standing committee to investigate the Panama Papers scandal.

Giegold is one of the Green members in the European Parliament’s Panama Papers committee that interviewed minister Konrad Mizzi and sought the attendance of chief of staff Keith Schembri, both having opened secret offshore companies in Panama.

He announced his request for a formal EC investigation during a phone interview with the press shortly before Prime Minister Joseph Muscat faces MEPs in Strasbourg to answer questions on the Panama Papers and Malta’s rule of law.

Giegold said that he had had an informal conversation with Muscat this morning, but that it did nothing to change his stance on the matter.

“Since neither the Panama Papers nor the FIAU reports triggered any serious investigations or prosecution procedures by the Maltese police, these reports should now be investigated by the European Commission,” Giegold said. “While I congratulate Joseph Muscat for winning the recent election, I remind him that elections are no replacement for fair and transparent investigations.

“It is worrying that the police failed to commence prosecution procedures after receiving those FIAU reports and this brings into question the rule of law in Malta. Malta’s democracy is sliding towards Hungary’s level, which is worrying.”

He also warned that the Panama Papers has greatly harmed Malta’s reputation and that the island is now “widely seen’ as a tax haven.

“If Malta’s rule of law is brought into question and if the country is seen as a tax haven, then that can only be bad news for Malta’s financial services industry…”