Scicluna accuses PN of interfering with Moneyval evaluation

Leaked Moneyval draft: PN calls on Edward Scicluna to restore country’s reputation

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna

The finance ministry has accused the Opposition of interefering with the a Moneyval evaluation being carried out on Malta

The Council of Europe mission has been carrying out the biennial evaluations on Malta for the last 20 years.

“The missions have always in the past carried their task serenely without undue pressure or interference from the political class. Not this time,” finance minister Edward Scicluna said in a statement.

“MEP David Casa asked to meet with Moneyval officials to inform the independent mission about a number of allegations against Malta. This attempt was followed by a letter sent to Moneyval by a number of MPs in the Council of Europe. This type of interference is unprecedented.”

The evaluation involves all Maltese regulatory and supervisory authorities, together with intelligence and law enforcement forces.

The current evaluation – now in its eighth stage with seven more to go – started months ago with an update of Malta’s National Risk Assessment, followed by the drawing up of a three-year Anti Money Laundering (AML) plan. The newly set-up National AML Coordinating Unit is to report on the progress achieved in its first year of operation.

“At this delicate phase of the evaluation process, the Opposition decided to make use and publicise an internal leaked Moneyval official document, which is still undergoing revisions, and removal of factual errors, all of which may result in changes to its conclusions and eventual recommendations,” Scicluna said.

The PN on Wednesday said the government had to restore the country’s reputation in light of preliminary findings from the Moneyval report on money laundering.

“The government should start by acknowledging the problem it created and then act to restore Malta’s good name. Failure to do so will reduce Malta’s attractiveness for foreign direct investment, and damage existing business sectors which sustain the livelihoods of thousands of Maltese families.

“It is high time that tangible action is taken by the present administration. The fact that Konrad Mizzi still holds a Cabinet position is bad enough. The fact that he is now being touted to enter the leadership race as a potential Prime Minister does not augur well for the country,” the PN said.

Scicluna however insisted that the PN was encouraging unlawful leakages of documents on the pretext of the Whistleblower Act. “The Opposition knows that a whistleblower is a person who exposes any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within an organisation that is either private or public. In this instance, the leaked document is an internal official draft, which is undergoing a due process.”

Scicluna said that the publication of a confidential draft was harming Malta by prejudicing the final evaluation. “Dr Mario Demarco, who himself has conflicts of interest in this area, is trying to score points by sitting pretty, expressing his concern for Malta’s reputation while doing the opposite,” Scicluna said of his finance counterpart.

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