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Repubblika asks EC to act over money laundering


https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20190210/local/repubblika-asks-ec-to-act-over-money-laundering.701544

 

Malta's failure to ensure proper application and implementation of the relevant EU law is a breach of Malta’s commitments, Repubblika claimed.

 

Repubblika, the NGO that promotes the rule of law, has lodged a formal complaint with the European Commission demanding action over the failure of the Maltese government and State institutions to apply EU money laundering law effectively in relation to people in high positions of power.

 

In its written submission to the EU’s executive, Repubblika said that since February 2016 all the national authorities in Malta have “collectively and persistently failed” to investigate specific allegations of corruption and money laundering exposed in the Panama Papers relating to people in high positions of power, namely a Cabinet Minister, Konrad Mizzi, and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri.

 

It said the failure of the Maltese State to ensure the proper application and implementation of the relevant EU law is a breach of Malta’s commitments under the Treaty.

 

“Three years since the publication of Panama Papers, no investigation has started in Malta, no charges have been brought in court, no resignations have been tendered and the people concerned are still in public office. Along with the relevant EU law on money laundering, this also constitutes an unacceptable breach of the EU values of democracy and the rule of law,” Repubblika said.

 

The NGO said that several attempts were made to instigate the national competent authorities to investigate the specific allegations of corruption and money laundering.

 

“Repeated public calls were specifically made on the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Police and the FIAU, all of which are responsible for law enforcement in Malta. To date none of these national authorities have moved to investigate the allegations and although it is believed that the FIAU did investigate, it is clear that if anything, it fell short of ensuring that its reports were duly followed up.

 

Repeated public calls were made to the AG

 

“In July 2018, the FIAU was already found to be in breach of EU law by the European Banking Authority (EBA) in the EBA’s first decision of this nature. The case related to the bank known as Pilatus Bank,” it said.

 

Repubblika also said that recourse was made on more than one occasion to the national courts demanding the opening of a magisterial inquiry into the case in accordance with national law that enables citizens to report any alleged criminal offence and request that it is investigated by an inquiring magistrate.

 

“Despite the known facts, even the courts have incredibly rejected calls for an investigation. It is precisely because all national institutions in Malta appear to be unable or unwilling to investigate this case, as required by the letter and the spirit of EU law that we are now turning to the EU institutions to look into this matter. Other attempts will be made before the national courts to instigate the start of an investigation. However it transpires clearly that Malta’s national institutions are unwilling or unable to investigate this case because it involves people in high positions of power who are protected by the Prime Minister,” it said.

 

Repubblika has also submitted a petition to the European Parliament on the same lines as the complaint sent to the European Commission. The petition is currently undergoing vetting by the Parliament’s vetting committee.

 

It is also preparing a petition for Maltese citizens to support its appeal to the European institutions on an individual basis.

 

“The more of us that raise their voice in protest against this delinquency, the better chance we have of ensuring that European laws written to protect us are enforced,” it said.