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Casa: ‘Lack of anti-money laundering enforcement serious and systemic’

MEP David Casa has flagged the latest revelations on 17 Black to the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering experts

MEP David Casa

MEP David Casa has flagged the latest revelations on 17 Black to the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering monitoring body (Moneyval).

“Anti-money laundering laws are not worth the paper they are printed on unless they are enforced. It appears that when it comes to people close to the Maltese Prime Minister enforcement is non-existent and the deficiencies are serious and systemic,” Casa said.

On Friday, members of the Daphne Project revealed that power station director Yorgen Fenech is the owner of the mystery Dubai-registered company 17 Black.

Moneyval is currently conducting its 5th Round Evaluation into Malta’s compliance with anti-money laundering laws.

For months, Casa has called for a proper investigation on 17 Black and together with former PN leader Simon Busuttil was instrumental in getting the Maltese court to hold an inquiry into revelations that $1.6 million was wired to the ‘target client’ of Panama companies owned by Schembri and Mizzi. 

Two months ago, Casa called on Moneyval to investigate the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit’s (FIAU) handling of information about Dubai-based company 17 Black.

Casa flagged a number of issues, including evidence that 17 Black, according to correspondence between Mossack Fonseca and Nexia BT was to transfer €150,000 monthly to each minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri who he described as “two high level politically exposed persons that are the minds behind Malta’s power station project.”

He added that funds from entities associated with the power station project were transferred to 17 Black and funds have now been frozen in 17 Black’s bank account at Noor bank in Dubai.

Casa said that although Maltese authorities had been informed of the identity of the owner of 17 Black for many months “no action appears to have been taken in order to cease criminal activity that is potentially ongoing.”

“Neither has any action been taken against Nexia BT – the auditing firm at the heart of the allegations that was shown to have mislead the FIAU, withheld information and fabricated letters of engagement to ensure consistency of documentation with public statements made by the politically exposed persons they serviced. This information results from the FIAU’s leaked report that calls for police action against Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi,” he said.

Casa asked for this information to be brought to the attention of Moneyval’s evaluation team.

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