Real action needed, not ‘vain attempts to downplay the severity of greylisting’

'Malta needs a clean administration run by competent and trustworthy people' - Malta Employers Association

 

Despite the prime minister’s insistence that the decision by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Wednesday to greylist Malta will “not impact the economy”, industry leaders have reacted negatively to the news, including the Malta Employers Association (MEA) that described it as a terrible “autogoal” for the Maltese economy.

“The news that Malta has been greylisted by the FATF has dealt a devastating blow for the Maltese economy which will stretch its resilience to its limit. Unlike the COVID pandemic, this crisis is entirely self-inflicted and the result of lax and corrupt practices by a minority of dishonest politicians and businesses, compounded with ineffective governance systems,” the MEA said in a statement.

The association also referred to the country’s justice system that is “strong with the weak” whereas glaring transgressions and crimes, including a murder of a journalist, remain unresolved or languish in the labyrinth of our judicial system”.

The country has been shaken by too many scandals involving senior politicians and politically exposed persons as well as the major institutions, the MEA pointed out.

Malta, the only EU Member State to be greylisted and whose economy depends on financial services, now joins countries like Syria, Yemen, and Myanmar on the FATF grey list.

Saying the greylisting is a “humiliation” for Malta, the MEA said it was time to realise that governance is not just about ticking boxes, but about values. The country must work to rebuild the trust of the international community, and not waste time in political bickering “in vain attempts to deny or downplay the severity of the greylisting”.

The first step of the uphill process to rebuild our national brand has to accept this outcome for what it is, the MEA said. It seems to be a message the prime minister has not heard. During a press conference held following news of the decision, both Robert Abela and Finance Minister Clyde Caruana downplayed the issue, even insisting financial targets would not be revised, despite international reports that show the impact of greylisting on countries.

A report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) analysing the effects of FATF greylisting on countries around the world indicates that greylisted countries experienced an average decline in capital flowing into the country of 7.6% of the same country’s quarterly GDP.

The MEA also pointed out that “the repercussions of the grey listing will be carried by honest businesses and their employees. The cost of added compliance procedures is already stifling many businesses. MEA has, for years, been campaigning for reform at a political level to have a clean administration, run by competent and trustworthy people”.

The Opposition reacts

Opposition Leader Bernard Grech described the decision as “a punishment for the entire nation”. During a programme on the Party’s TV station, he said this was “no time for business as usual” and the problem must be addressed as a matter of urgency. Malta was greylisted because the FATF does not trust the government, he said.

He proposed a task force that would include financial crime experts, social partners and representatives from the two major political parties. His suggestion was immediately dismissed by Prime Minister Robert Abela.

PN MEP and Quaestor David Casa told The Shift: “This is a disaster. It a very sad day for hard working Maltese people who should not have to suffer these consequences because of the greed of a few. The truth is that when you look at the scandals over the last years you realise that there has been complete impunity. No action on the Panama Papers, no action on 17 Black, Electrogas is still in operation, and nothing happened after the Montenegro wind farm project was exposed as yet another ploy to rob the Maltese out of millions and then launder it.”

In line with the MEA’s statement, he said strict measures have been put in place to give the impression that Malta is taking anti-money laundering rules seriously, but these are impacting honest businesses or individuals who want to open a bank account, while impunity remains for high level corruption and money laundering.

“I don’t think that this has impressed anyone. Impunity for high level corruption and money laundering must come to an end. It can’t be compensated for by interrogating honest citizens every time they try withdrawing their own money. We need to act now. We can’t afford not to get this right. It is too important. The livelihoods of our citizens depend on it,” Casa said.

                           
                               
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Lawrence Mifsud
Lawrence Mifsud
1 month ago

Now we are on the world map of corrupt countries not for being the BEST!

Chris
Chris
1 month ago

Never ever been the best – except inside the deluded minds of the shifty Muscat-Abela duo.

John
John
1 month ago

Has Christopher Buttigieg at MFSA resigned yet? Have FIAU director Kenneth Farrugia and his deputy Alfred Zammit tendered their resignations?

Will they be kicked out?

Is Edward Scicluna anywhere to be seen?

They destroyed the future of our children. They should be held responsible.

Can anyone ask disgraced Joe Cuschieri and Edwina Licari to make good for the damages which all of us will suffer?

James
James
1 month ago

The evidence of corruption has been in the public domain for years but the Government has not only ignored it, it has encouraged it by granting those who were meant to being brought to justice total immunity and rewarding them.

The reappointment of John Mamo as head of the MFSA in January was a case in point. The appointment of Edward Scicluna as Governor of the Central Bank on an increased salary compared to the previous incumbent, while under investigation no less, is another stand out example.

The utterances yesterday evening by Robert Abela and Clyde Caruana are an insult to the honest citizens of Malta who will fully understand why the FATF took their decision. The headmaster had been warning them that if they were caught again stealing from the tuck shop, they would be placed in detention but like silly naughty school children they thought they would never be caught out.

Well they have and not before time!

The consequences for those involved who have failed the nation should be draconian to serve as a warning to those tempted to join their club and to show to the FATF and the rest of the watching world that the country is taking the bitter medicine as part of the necessary healing process needed.

Dan Wallace
Dan Wallace
1 month ago

But, meritocracy and transparency? The institutions are working? How can this be?

What an amazing act of self flagellation this has been for the elected geniuses. The tragedy is this outcome has been written on the walls for years. Literally. The situation now beyond desperate.

Too many people had the chance to do the right thing and they turned a blind eye. They have systemically destroyed the achievements of honest people and deserve to root in Coradino. If only there was actually a slim chance that they would pay for their crimes.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
1 month ago

Malta has lost its reputation and trust in the financial services. The country came to this stage because of the irresponsible decision by the prime minister not to do the right thing and ask the police to investigate politicians involved in criminality. Now it can be worse. This government is not in a position to hold fair and democratic elections. The next thing is that the country loses the democratic credentials.

Raymond Mallia
Raymond Mallia
1 month ago

Maltese people keep voting Labour you seem to like being screwed over and over again by this mob from Mintoff to Invictus to Bertu ippoppa sidru.

Godfrey Leone Ganado
Godfrey Leone Ganado
1 month ago

Minister Clyde Caruana, Robert Abela, Evarist Bartolo and other PL acolytes,
in a last minute panic, jetsetted and wasted our money and their energy, to try and convince other countries to vote against greylisting Malta.
Now they are doing their utmost to convince everyone that there is nothing to worry about, as greylisting will not have any impact on our economy, our budget and our pockets.
I ask: why the heck then, you went into a panic and wasted our money?

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
1 month ago

The prime minister Robert Abela is making things worse than they are when he says that the greylisting will not have an impact on the economy. This will be understood abroad that the businesses in Malta don’t bother about greylisting or not because they continue to do business. This would mean that the majority of businesses in Malta are dependent on corruption and money laundering and will confirm the decision for the greylisting. These are irresponsible words from the prime minister and he should retract them as soon as possible.

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