MEPs have today held a debate on the Panama Papers and the rule of law in Malta in the presence of Maltese Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat. Prime Minister Muscat faces allegations that senior members of his government were involved in money laundering. Despite several senior officials being implicated in the Panama Papers, there has to date been no major inquiry and the named officials remain in post. Despite several reports from the the Maltese Anti-Money Laundering intelligence unit (FIAU), prosecution procedures have not been opened.
The financial and economic policy spokesperson for the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament, Sven Giegold says that the EU Commission must initiate an investigation into whether the Maltese Government has violated the EU money laundering directive.
“The Maltese government officials face serious allegations that they are either passively allowing, or directly involved in, money laundering. Prime Minister Muscat did little to dispel these suspicions today. The European Commission must quickly investigate whether Malta has violated EU anti-money laundering rules and complied with EU rules for bank licensing. If the suspicions are confirmed, the Commission would surely have no choice but to initiate an infringement procedure. Until now, the Maltese government has been highly reluctant to cooperate with the Panama Papers investigation underway in the European Parliament. They cannot continue to stall and must provide evidence before the committee.”
Greens/EFA member of the Panama Papers inquiry committee Eva Joly adds:
"We expect to see action in Malta, too. If Prime Minister Muscat is serious about removing any suspicion, he must initiate a thorough inquiry into these allegations, sparing no one in his inner circle. The Maltese Police Commissioner must likewise be instructed to start formal investigations into the allegations of money laundering."
Revelations by the ICIJ consortium in April 2016 showed that politically exposed members of the Maltese government (Minister Konrad Mizzi and Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister, Keith Schembri) owned shell companies in tax havens. The Greens/EFA group has written to the European Commission to check whether Malta has been compliant with the Anti-Money Laundering Directive and with the Capital Requirements Directive prescribing the licensing of banks.
Link to our letter to the Commission asking for infringement investigations: https://www.greens-efa.eu/files/doc/docs/d7ae196d2884443fa16edda2e4b82c09.pdf
Background briefing on European Parliament Plenary Debate on Malta: https://www.greens-efa.eu/files/doc/docs/68cebd7becd78e9de4d6be7d251120d0.pdf