“We didn’t deserve it”. “Only three countries wanted us greylisted”. “They want to destroy our economy because we’re so successful”. “They are envious”. This is just a taste of the puerile responses to Malta’s greylisting. Not just by Labour’s trolls, living in One TV’s fantasy world. This was the official government reaction.
Prime Minister Robert Abela insisted the decision was “unjust”. He would not be “stamping his feet” (nissupervjaw), he said on the Labour Party’s channel. How reassuring.
His foreign affairs minister dug deeper into the hole Labour into which they cast Malta. “Small countries find those who investigate them, accuse them and condemn them. As far as responsibilities, small countries are expected to abide by them. Big countries have ways of getting away with murder”. Bartolo moaned that Malta must abide by its international responsibilities. He wants to get away with murder too.
And promptly resorted to that most fascist of tactics. “Those who were pleased with the decision are not true Maltese”. So who are the true Maltese? The ones who led us into this catastrophe?
Labour Ministers and MEPs parroted the same narrative. From Michael Falzon to Edward Zammit Lewis, from Clint Camilleri to Clyde Caruana, Cyrus Engerer and Carmelo Abela: “We don’t deserve this, we’re targeted because we’re small, we’re the envy of the world. Besides it’s no big deal, we’ve plenty to fall back on – the sun will still rise”.
How can this motley crew salvage Malta from its predicament when they cannot even make that first step – acknowledging the problem?
Such errors are costly. People hurt. Some of that pain can be mitigated by swiftly correcting those errors. The first three steps in that process are acknowledging those errors, taking responsibility and apologising.
There is no acknowledgement by Labour of its catastrophic failures. “We’ve done everything requested of us, we didn’t deserve it. The big states are worse than us.”
No responsibility has been accepted. “It was Bernard Grech’s letter to FATF that caused it”.” It was treasonous.” “PN MEPs who are not ‘true Maltese’”. It was everybody else’s fault.
After years of protecting Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi, their Panamanian shenanigans, the corrupt deals with SOCAR, the money laundering passport deals, Brian Tonna’s Nexia BT, the rotten Vitals secret agreements, the St Vincent de Paul scandal, DB contracts, the protection of Pilatus and its PEPs, Edward Scicluna’s self-serving silence, his shameless appointment as Central Bank governor, the stuffing of institutions with spineless rotten accomplices, the dismantling of the FIAU, the demolition of the police force, the appointment of the bootlicking Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar, the botched prosecution of the alleged money laundering John Dalli and his daughters, the retention of Edwina Licari at the MFSA, the shielding of James Piscopo, the illegal appointment of Brigadier Jeffrey Curmi, the political appointment of unqualified inexperienced magistrates – no responsibility taken.
As for apologising – that will never happen. Labour is always right. Joseph Muscat was always right. And Abela can do no wrong. With that mindset, the prospects of swiftly emerging from that greylist are remote.
Malta has been given chances before. But it broke its word. Labour’s government was trusted but swiftly resorted to unadulterated deception. Malta angered the European Commission when it started selling passports without requiring applicants to live in the country or have any links to it. This was naked exploitation of Malta’s membership at its fellow member states’ expense.
In January 2014, Muscat’s government grudgingly agreed to curtail its contentious plans. Malta was given a reprieve. Labour acceded to introduce an effective one-year residence requirement before awarding citizenship. Labour pretended to accept the new requirements while steaming ahead with its original plans. Labour introduced the new rules on paper to appease our European allies, adamant none would ever be implemented.
Labour’s duplicity was bound to be exposed. And it was, when a cache of data from Henley and Partners was leaked in April. A joint investigation in a collaborative effort between national and international newsrooms exposed the details. It includes an undercover investigation by The Guardian that confirmed the information from the leak. Despite its reassurances, Malta was still selling passports to applicants who never fulfilled the residency requirement agreed with the Commission. Malta had hoodwinked its European allies.
Labour’s word would never be trusted again. Malta paid the price. Greylisting was the inevitable consequence of Labour’s irresponsible dishonesty.
Labour is the master of constructing a front of laws and legal structures that simulates a decent democratic liberal state. But determinedly and persistently ensures that none of those laws is implemented and none of those legal structures function. That’s why Malta passed Moneyval but failed the scrutiny by the FATF.
Labour brags about the Whistleblower Act. But when a contractor exposed Evarist Bartolo’s canvasser for bribery, the contractor was swiftly prosecuted for defamation. When an FIAU official requested whistleblower status to expose Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi, Adrian Hillman and Joseph Muscat, it was swiftly denied. Edward Scicluna defended his sacking from the FIAU.
The Planning Authority is tasked with imposing controls. Instead, it enables widespread illegalities by those supporting the party – Chloe and Joseph Portelli, Charles Polidano, and Joe Gaffarena, among others. Illegalities are not dismantled. Instead, they’re swiftly sanctioned. Perpetrators are not prosecuted.
The MFSA is nominally responsible for the supervision of financial services activities. Instead, under Labour’s Joseph Cuschieri it was a lame duck enabling widespread serious transgressions. Only two months after the MFSA claimed there were “no red flags” on Pilatus, it made a spectacular u-turn recommending withdrawal of its licence.
One damning NAO report after another are swiftly buried. Serious crimes exposed in the reports are never investigated.
Those responsible for these abysmal failures – Manuel Mallia, Justyne Caruana, Michael Farrugia, Michael Falzon, Edward Scicluna, Ian Borg, Carmelo Abela, Silvio Schembri, Evarist Bartolo, Owen Bonnici, Robert Abela – now take on the onerous task of restoring Malta’s reputation and extricating it from the greylist.
What Malta desperately needs to redeem itself is honest decent leaders of the highest integrity. What it has instead is dishonest rot.