Murder, money laundering in Malta – a challenge for EU
15 Nov 2017

By Francesco Guarascio, REUTERS

The European Union has called very publicly for Malta to bring to justice the killers of a journalist who accused the Mediterranean island’s leaders of profiting from global corruption.

But it has for years been much less vocal — and had little success — in ensuring Malta act to prevent money laundering, according to sources familiar with the work of the Maltese authorities and a Reuters review of EU and Maltese data.

The data show the smallest EU state has been slow to apply international guidelines on naming firms that do not take action against dubious practices, and the number of convictions and sanctions for money laundering has been low.

Malta has also consistently registered fewer reports of “suspect transactions” from banks, casinos and other financial operators than any other EU state, according to the data, despite having a disproportionately large financial sector.

The European Parliament urged the European Commission, the EU’s executive, on Wednesday to investigate Malta’s adherence to the rule of law and voiced “serious concerns” about police independence and international money-laundering on the island.

But criticism of Malta on money laundering — in low-key reports by international supervisory bodies and by anti-corruption campaigner Daphne Caruana Galizia, killed by a car bomb on Oct. 16 — appears so far to have had little impact.

“Malta has sold its sovereignty to dirty money. The European Commission should take a more active role in investigating the condition of rule of law in Malta,” Sven Giegold, a member of European Parliament from Germany’s Greens party who campaigns against financial crime, told Reuters.

He said an international investigator was needed to counter a “culture of impunity and fiddling between political and economic elites” in Malta.

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