Malta government spokespeople have failed to respond to questions about whether they have approached the German government to obtain any information about Maltese nationals or residents who may be named in the vast cache of Dubai data it has purchased from a whistleblower.
The German government announced on 16 June that on 14 January this year, it began negotiations with an anonymous informant to buy data containing extensive information on millions of taxpayers worldwide who hold assets in Dubai.
The German finance ministry said on its website that it had bought the data for the specific purpose of detecting international crimes.
The Federal Central Tax Office, which carried out the negotiations, acquired the data on 10 February, since when it’s been edited and analysed in order to be passed on to the relevant authorities.
The international money laundering watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), while explaining its reasons for greylisting Malta last month, cited, among other things, lack of transparency on ultimate beneficial owners of companies and weak financial intelligence on tax crimes as the main “strategic deficiencies” of Malta’s financial jurisdiction.
Information about Maltese-owned Dubai companies such as Yorgen Fenech’s 17 Black and Paul Apap Bologna’s Kittiwake, both of which are suspected of having been set up to facilitate money laundering, tax evasion and the payment of illegal kickbacks, has made it clear that Dubai should be a centre of interest to the Maltese government in attempting to tackle financial crime.
According to the German government, “the purchased data will be used for the purpose of detecting tax crimes that have nationwide, international and/or major significance. The data can help shed light on unknown assets and undeclared income.”
“The illumination of cases with an international dimension helps to ensure tax compliance and tax enforcement,” the statement said.
The Shift first sent emailed questions to various official Malta government spokespeople two weeks ago, after the German government announced its purchase and offered any interested parties the opportunity to access the data.
So far, despite several reminders, none of the spokespeople we have contacted has replied or even acknowledged our questions.
German finance minister Olaf Scholz says in the press release on his ministry’s website: “We are using all available instruments to detect tax crimes. This new data will enable us to shine a light into the dark corners where tax offenders continue to hide. Now it is up to tax investigators to track down the offenders and bring them to justice.”