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MEPs note Maltese authorities’ reluctance to launch investigations

MEPs say Maltese authorities play pass the parcel when it comes to investigating money laundering and corruption

MEPs investigating the rule of law in Malta fear that although institutions and laws are in place, authorities fail to launch investigations into money laundering and corruption.

Addressing a press conference at the end of the two-day visit, Dutch MEP Sophie in’t Veld said that authorities in Malta play pass the parcel and called on the authorities to look into whether this is down to reluctance to investigate or to “structures that don’t work.”

This week MEPs from the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee, including Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola, travelled to Slovakia and Malta to probe the murders of journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia and Jan Kuciak.

In reference to a number of scandals involving tourism minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri and the flailing investigation into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, the head of the delegation said “it is unclear who will start the investigation rather than jumping on it immediately.”

She said that one of the delegation’s conclusions from their visit in Malta was that authorities “wait and point at each other and nobody takes responsibility. Why is that? It is important that when there are issues they are investigated. Such, for instance, was the case with things in the Daphne Project.”

On the investigations into Caruana Galizia’s death, in’t Veld said “legal obstacles are cited as an excuse not to investigate certain things.”

Asked to compare the investigations into Caruana Galizia’s murder with investigations into the death of Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak she said it is unclear if the slow progress was down to thoroughness or inertia.

German Green MEP Sven Giegold – who has visited Malta a number of times to investigate the rule of law and the Panama Papers revelations – said that authorities such as the anti-money laundering agency (FIAU) and the Malta Financial Services Authority had not learnt their lessons from the Pilatus Bank debacle.

“Rather than the FIAU and MFSA saying we have a problem and we will learn from it, they say that this was an exceptional case,” Geigold said, adding that the authorities were in denial.

He added that the promised changes within the MFSA had not taken place despite a European Banking Authority probe and insisted that Mizzi and Schembri should have been sacked for having set up secret companies in Panama. 

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