The Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament have requested a plenary debate on the suspicion of money laundering in Malta involving several politically exposed persons. In the course of the Panama Paper revelations it has been reported that the wife of Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his Chief of Staff Keith Schembri as well as Minister Konrad Mizzi used offshore companies for fraudulent activities.
Latest news reveal that Schembri might have received kickbacks from the sale of Maltese passports via a BVI registered company. The Maltese Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit is reported to having transmitted evidence about these transactions to the police on 17 May 2016. But until today, the police seems to block investigation and keep the report secret. Also the Maltese Pilatus Bank is under fire as it is accused to having failed to file a suspicious transaction report on Schembri’s transactions carried out via his account at the same bank.
Prime Minister Muscat already denied to appear in front of the European Parliament’s inquiry committee on money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion (PANA) next week. Similarly, Chief of Staff Schembri refused to meet the inquiry committee in Malta or to come to Brussels. Also Nexia BT and Brian Tonna as well as Alfred J. Zammit have refused so far to appear. Against the backdrop of the latest allegations, the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament has requested a plenary debate on money laundering suspicious in Malta. If other groups support the request in the Conference of Presidents this Thursday, the debate will be put on the agenda for next week’s plenary session in Strasbourg.
MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented:
“We are seriously concerned about the rule of law in Malta. It is unacceptable that the Maltese police has failed to investigate suspicious activities of Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri and kept the report of the Financial Intelligence Unit under lock and key. The Maltese police now has to explain which and how many reports it has received in the past five years and how legal proceedings were initiated.
The presidency-in-office of the Council urgently has to put its house in order. The accusations against leading Maltese politicians and high-profile officials are causing incalculable damage to the reputation not only of Malta but of the whole Union. We are therefore requesting a plenary debate on the suspicions of money laundering in Malta. The persons bearing the political responsibility have to come to Strasbourg and answer open questions.
It is a worrying sign for the state of democracy in Malta, that in the country of the EU presidency the Maltese parliament has not itself established an inquiry committee in order to investigate the accusations.”
The invitation letter of the PANA inquiry committee to Prime Minister Muscat can be found here:
The background story about allegations with regard to Keith Schembri can be read here: