Eight years of government-sanctioned and protected rampant corruption, criminality, money-laundering, dealings with international crooks, organised crime and international sanctions busters brought Malta to the edge of the abyss. And now, it has thrown us sprawling into the vortex.
Let’s be more specific about who exactly has thrust us into this catastrophe: Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi, Edward Scicluna, Lawrence Cutajar, the FIAU, the MFSA, the police force, the former attorney general Peter Grech, the Egrant magistrate who incredibly managed to exonerate the Muscats without proving anything at all, the Yorgen Fenechs and Paul Apap Bolognas who put the island into bed with international pariahs such as the Alijevs, the Musajevs, the Ali Sadrs and so many others. And the companies that fed the money-lust of the government and its officials.
This has not been a question of vague, unknowable elements hitting us from behind: the government and all its officials have been aware this could happen for several years. The unbelievably stupid attempt to hoodwink the experts by “strengthening” laws that only really needed enforcing, yet continuing to allow the above mentioned and their huge network of accomplices to operate with impunity, was never going to work.
Instead of doing what was urgent and necessary, they created reams of additional red tape, cumbersome new procedures to place an impossible burden on the small, honest professionals struggling to cope.
Yet the actual common criminals who hijacked Malta eight years ago are still at large. No action taken against most of them, still enjoying total impunity for their misdeeds. It’s worth remembering that the failure to apprehend, prosecute and incarcerate money launderers and other financial criminals is critical to any assessment of whether Malta is assisting or confounding international efforts to control crime.
But in Malta, years after they were first exposed, despite the volumes of evidence against them, not a single perpetrator has been successfully prosecuted, not even those who are also suspected of having been involved in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
As the reality of what greylisting will mean for our country begins to hit, a country let’s not forget, that has no natural resources and has always had to use the power and quality of its human resources to sustain itself, we must never forget that this could and should have been avoided by those to whom we entrusted the running of the country.
This could have been avoided if the government had acted on Caruana Galizia’s stories, if the authorities had taken action after the revelations in the Panama Papers and other investigations; it could have been avoided if the attorney general had done his job, if the police commissioner had done his job.
It is this long list of crooks, enablers, facilitators and apologists, most of whom haven’t even been arrested or charged, let alone punished, that is directly responsible for the pain and suffering everyone in Malta is going to experience as a result. This is going to affect every industry, every sector and everyone’s quality of life.
Greylisting rings the death knell for Malta’s financial services industries and many others that will fall domino-style to the sword of international approbation.
The damage done to Malta today, as we join Pakistan, Yemen, Nicaragua, Panama and the rest of the ostracised group of greylisted countries, will last for decades. It’s an absolute tragedy.