Transfer for TCU investigator whose spouse had secret BVI company

​The Tax Compliance Unit was forced to transfer one of its employees out of its investigations department, after the Panama Papers revealed the employee’s spouse was the shareholder in a British Virgin Islands-registered company

The Tax Compliance Unit was forced to transfer one of its employees out of its investigations department, after the Panama Papers revealed the employee’s spouse was the shareholder in a British Virgin Islands-registered company.

The TCU confirmed that it had transferred one of its investigators, Anton Bonnici, to another department, when it was revealed that his wife Vikie Bonnici was the shareholder in an offshore BVI company called Bacome Holdings, which was revealed in the Panama Papers data leak of 2016.

The Commissioner for Inland Revenue, Marvin Gaerty, confirmed MaltaToday’s information.

“I can confirm that Mr Bonnici was removed from the TCU immediately when the Panama Papers information was made available and till this day works in another department which has nothing to do with investigations.”

But Gaerty said the CIR could not tell this newspaper what steps it had taken with regards to Bacome Holdings, and whether the Maltese shareholder’s affairs were in order given the Panama reveal. “As you are aware we cannot divulge any tax information on individuals since we are bound by secrecy and confidentiality.”

Earlier this week, The Times reported that a total of 237 Maltese taxpayers had featured in the Panama Papers leak, yet the police never carried out a comprehensive probe into all those individuals and companies named.

The bulk of the investigations were carried out by the Inland Revenue Department in an administrative process rather than a criminal probe.

Last year, Inland Revenue said €9.1 million had been recovered by the taxman after offshore dealings were exposed in the Panama Papers in 2016.

According to the Tax Compliance Unit, there were 237 taxpayers in Malta who featured in the Panama Papers – 163 individuals, 62 companies and 12 trustees.

Those who settled with the taxman have, so far, escaped any criminal action.

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna has, in the past, said the authorities were set to place more focus on the criminal element of tax evasion, which often involved a money-laundering element.

A financial crimes agency will be set up by the government but little detail about the proposal has surfaced since the idea was floated last summer.

A 2019 assessment report by Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering body, had found that the police carried out very few investigations on their own initiative when it came to money-laundering.

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