Onus on government to say how it will address money laundering shortcomings, Opposition says

Media reports suggest Malta failed the Moneyval test and has 12 months to adopt measures to address shortcomings in its fight against money laundering

The Moneyval report was approved in a closed plenary session of the Council of Europe
The Moneyval report was approved in a closed plenary session of the Council of Europe

Government has to clarify what steps it is going to take after the approval of a damning Moneyval report by the Council of Europe, the Opposition said.

It was reacting to a report in the Times of Malta that claimed Malta failed a key money laundering review by the international organisation Moneyval.

The report was adopted in a closed plenary session of the Council of Europe last week but its findings are not yet public. Malta is understood to have received a poor overall rating in its fight against money laundering and has 12 months to rectify its position or risk blacklisting.

Nationalist Party spokespersons Mario de Marco and Kristy Debono said the consequences of Moneyval’s decision are “extremely serious” on Malta's financial services sector.

They insisted that a main reason behind this development was the “meltdown of the state institutions” meant to fight money laundering.

“Since 2013, these institutions have repeatedly failed to carry out their duty without fear or favour, giving in to political pressure as was evidenced by the licensing of Pilatus Bank; the failure of MFSA to take action on Pilatus Bank despite reports of breaches of banking regulations; the failure of government as a whole to take action against Minister Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri despite FIAU reports which concluding that these individuals were involved in suspected cases of corruption and money laundering; and, the sacking of the FIAU officer who was investigating Pilatus Bank and high government officials involved in suspected cases of money laundering,” the Opposition said.

The spokespersons said the Opposition was informed that government had some months back commissioned international experts to advice on how Malta could avoid being blacklisted.

The Opposition said it was in the interest of transparency to make public the full report approved by the Council of Europe, the experts' report on what steps need to be taken over the next 12 months and a road map showing how and when these recommendations are going to be implemented.

“Government should also clarify whether the experts' advice included a strong recommendation for steps to be taken against the government officials involved in suspected money laundering. Government should also clarify what steps it is going to take in this regard,” the Opposition said.

The PN said the Moneyval conclusions were another confirmation of the “dismal record” of Finance Minister Edward Scicluna.

“Minister Scicluna failed to protect Malta's financial services sector preferring instead to protect the interest of his cabinet colleagues and friends. His failure is going to be borne by all those whose livelihood depends directly or indirectly from Malta's financial services sector,” de Marco and Debono said.

More in National