Malta Business Review RULE OF LAW RULE OF LAW IN MALTA: MEPS DEMAND POLICE INVESTIGATE ALL CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS MALTA’S POLICE MUST INVESTIGATE ALL CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS, PARTICULARLY AT THE HIGHEST POLITICAL LEVEL, TO END THE PERCEIVED IMPUNITY IN THE COUNTRY, MEPS SAY. Members of the Civil Liberties Committee and the former Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance (PANA) discussed the conclusions of a factfinding mission to Valletta last month to assess the situation of the rule of law and several allegations of corruption and money laundering. Maltese Minister of Justice Dr Owen Bonnici attended the meeting, as did two of the sons of the journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed in a bomb attack in October 2017. Mr Bonnici regretted that MEPs are not taking account of the significant reforms adopted by the Maltese government to address corruption and assured them that all serious allegations are being investigated. “It is completely false that this government has put the rule of law in the dustbin”, he stated. Most of the MEPs criticised the lack of police action, despite the very serious evidence of maladministration involving even members of the Maltese government, and considered the situation in Malta a source of concern for the whole of the EU. Many pointed to the lack of transparency of the Citizenship by Investment programme. Some speakers also asked for more time to get a full and clear picture of what is going on in the country. anti-money laundering legislation, the serious problems deriving from the ‘investments for citizenship programme’, and the mentions of Maltese politically exposed persons in the Panama Papers and their continuing presence in government. Members noted the low rate of investigations and absence of prosecution by the Maltese authorities on these cases, as well as with regards to private sector actors involved, such as Nexia BT and Pilatus Bank. The delegation’s leader Ana Gomes (S&D, PT) underlined that the rule of law in the Member States, whether it is Malta or any other EU country, is of great concern to all: “The rule of law is a matter of collective security. The brutal assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia was aimed at instilling fear in everyone, especially those involved in investigating and prosecuting cases of money laundering and corruption. We are worried about the low number of cases that are being prosecuted in the area of financial crimes. This impunity cannot continue”, she said. Ms Gomes also expressed concerns about the “accumulation of powers with the Attorney General”, which she feels “are not fully used when it comes to fighting corruption and money laundering”. She added that, “Malta is not yet fully implementing the 4th Anti Money Laundering directive” and that it is blocking an agreement on the 5th one, which aims at increasing transparency when it comes to real owners behind companies and trusts. She also pointed out that Malta has decided not to join the European Public Prosecutor Office (EPPO), which aims at fighting fraud involving EU funds and protecting the financial interests of the Union. MBR Cedit: EP Press Service/Estefania Narrillos Concerns During the meetings, the MEPs expressed serious concerns about the unclear separation of powers, which has been the source for the perceived lack of independence of the judiciary and the police, the weak implementation of 18 Mr Timmermans knees at a candlelight vigil for Ms Caruana Galizia held in Brussels.
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