[WATCH] White-collar crimes in Malta ‘underreported, underestimated and often tolerated’

Crime detection on EU funds ‘practically zero’ in Malta, says EU chief prosecutor

European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kovesi
European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kovesi

The European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kovesi has complained that the level of crime-detection in Malta related to the EU budget, is practically zero.

She disclosed that from 2,200 reports received by mid-October from all around the EU, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office had only received two reports from Malta, which did not lead to any investigations, as the cases did not fall under its authority.

“We cannot just rely on investigative journalists to detect crimes, so the help of national authorities is crucial. National authorities have a duty to inform us of any criminal conduct affecting the EU funds. As from 1 June, we have started receiving complaints from individuals, entities and companies related to such abuse,” said Kovesi.

The EPPO was set up to investigate serious crimes that affect the EU budget and its disbursement of funds, including corruption and organised crime.

“I do not think that Malta is a clean country when it comes to how it utilises EU funds, although then I do not think that a clean country exists,” Kovesi emphasised.

“The bottom line is that without action there cannot be investigations, prosecutions, and judgements. We should not rely only on investigative journalists.”

Kovesi visited the National Audit Office, the Commissioner of Police, the Attorney General as well as the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit.

“White-collar crimes are underreported, underestimated and often tolerated. We are not a foreign institution and are at the service of the citizen. We are here for you and we want to earn your trust. If the Maltese citizens have any knowledge of any crimes and abuse, they can report it on the EPPO website”.

“The main concern with Malta is to understand who detects the crime. It was a little bit difficult for us to understand who is responsible as institutions kept referring to each other. We understand that Malta is a small country, but this is no excuse.”