Political interference in FATF verdict could open Pandora’s box, Clyde Caruana warns

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana on the warpath: ‘If the FATF process is subverted by ulterior political motives we will take steps to protect the national interest’ • Bernard Grech writes to FATF

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana
Finance Minister Clyde Caruana

Clyde Caruana has departed from his usually sober self as he warns of “ulterior political motives” that could undermine Malta’s evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force.

In a pointed Facebook post in Maltese, the Finance Minister said government will be forced to take the necessary steps to protect the national interest if this happens.

Caruana said that Malta passed from all the points in the technical exam undertaken by the Council of Europe body, Moneyval. The report is now being discussed by the Financial Action Task Force, an international body.

“If we follow logic that a country should pass the test on the basis of this exercise, Malta will pass. But if the technical process is subverted by ulterior political motives, the outcome could open a Pandora’s Box. If this happens, this will be unjust with all the serious work that is being done and was done over the past year-and-a-half and it will neither do justice with the Maltese people,” Caruana wrote.

It is the FATF, which is also swayed by US influence, that has the final word on the whether Malta is placed on the grey list, which would be a signal to the global financial and banking system about heightened risks from transactions with Malta.

A final decision by the FATF is expected on 23 June.

READ ALSO: Malta decision on FATF grey-listing fate expected for 23 June

Caruana said that irrespective of Malta’s size, it remained a sovereign country with an identity, a flag and a national anthem.

“Just as other countries protect their interests, we will also take all the necessary steps to protect the interests of our country and our people,” he insisted.

Bernard Grech writes to FATF

Meanwhile, Opposition leader Bernard Grech has written to the FATF to assure them that as an alternative government his party would restore Malta’s international reputation.

He said it was worrying that the US, the UK and Germany had taken a position against Malta in yesterday’s FATF meeting.

“This is a matter of national importance that can negatively impact the financial services industry and the gaming sector among others. The political responsibility for this falls squarely on the Labour government. It needs a change in mentality and not an exercise of ticking boxes as Robert Abela has said,” Grech said.

He added that after years of sacrifices to build the industry, Malta should have never been put in this position.

READ ALSO: Evarist Bartolo on FATF verdict: ‘We do not deserve to be grey-listed’