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Financial Crimes committee calls for action on SLAPP lawsuits and 17 Black

The European Parliament’s Committee on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance voted on its final report calling on national governments to introduce legislation to protect journalists from SLAPP lawsuits, intended to financially cripple journalists with lawsuits in other countries.

In addition, following the hearing on 17 Black, MEPs expressed their deep concern over the situation in Malta and the political inaction on cases of high-level corruption and money laundering involving Maltese politicians.

“The Committee has demanded that the UAE ensures that funds frozen in 17 Black’s bank accounts remain frozen and highlighted the lack of independence of both the Maltese FIAU and the Maltese Commissioner of Police,” MEP David Casa, who is a member of the committee, said.

The Committee noted that investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was working on the biggest data leak she had ever received at the time she was assassinated – documents from Electrogas – and that it is the director and shareholder of Electrogas that was exposed as the owner of the company 17 Black, Yorgen Fenech.

A call was also made for the establishment of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in order to address serious doubts about the independence of any ongoing investigations on 17 Black, with the support of EUROPOL and EUROJUST.

“It is of great concern that there have been reports of lack of progress on requests for information from the authorities in the UAE. Serious questions have been raised as to how actively Maltese authorities are pursuing the transfer of evidence that would implicate people at the highest levels of government in corruption and money laundering,” he said.

Earlier this month, the TAX3 Committee held a hearing on the 17 Black revelations. The report also dealt with issues of taxation that a number of member states, including Malta, strongly opposed.

“I submitted amendments to any such provisions in the drafting phase of this report and strongly opposed any clauses that could have had a negative impact on Malta’s taxation system in the vote today. I have always vociferously defended Malta’s taxation system and will always continue to do so,” Casa said.

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