Malta’s rule of law needs close monitoring
- Commission must start “dialogue on functioning of rule of law” with Malta
- Insufficient action against money-laundering, corruption, complacent granting of EU citizenship
- Europol should be fully involved in investigations on Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination
Malta needs to prop up its rule of law and the Commission must monitor the country closely to ensure unbiased law enforcement, MEP say.
A resolution, adopted by an overwhelming majority, asks the Commission to “start a dialogue with the Maltese government on the functioning of the rule of law in Malta”. The Commission is also tasked with verifying if Malta complies with anti-money laundering rules and bank regulations.
Parliament notes that the independence of Malta’s law enforcement and judiciary may be compromised because the interests of individuals have infiltrated the public decision-making processes to further their own ends. MEPs also want disclosure of the country’s programme of selling Maltese and EU citizenship to non-EU citizens. And they call for an independent international investigation, with the full involvement of Europol, into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Malta’s worsening track record
Numerous reports, from Europol, Reporters Without Borders, and the European Parliament’s temporary committee on the Panama Papers, conclude that recent developments raise serious concerns about Malta’s governance, freedoms, and illegal activities, facilitated by the weakness of the systems in place.
A major problem underlined in the resolution is Malta’s poor record in tackling a number of serious allegations of corruption, breach of anti-money laundering laws and banking supervision, because the police do not carry out investigations and the Financial Intelligence and Analysis Unit (FIAU) is under political pressure.
The resolution also notes that those named in the FIAU reports and the Panama Papers continue in government. MEPs urge Malta’s Police Commissioner to open investigations and ask the country’s supervisory and judiciary authorities to investigate Pilatus bank’s licensing process, a bank facing scathing criticisms in recent months. The work of Nexia BT, a consultancy involved in the citizenship programme and named in the Panama Papers, should also be investigated.
Citizenship against payment - more clarity needed
The resolution casts doubts on the practice of granting citizenship of an EU country against payment and asks the Commission to monitor these programmes. In the case of Malta, leaked reports pinpoint possible corruption in the administration and the government is asked to make clear who has purchased Maltese citizenship and how it verifies if these persons have spent a year in Malta prior to the purchase.