Malta’s financial scrutiny – Arnold Cassola

The narrative presented by the Maltese government, when the flaws in the Maltese onshore legislation are exposed, always follows the same pattern: other countries are jealous of our success and are thus bent on destroying us and our financial system.

The non-admission that there might be loopholes in our onshore financial system and the strenuous defence of it are not only a hallmark of Finance Minister Edward Scicluna and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, but is also backed tooth and nail by the exponents of the Nationalist Party, not only because it was the Nationalists who actually put the system in place, but also because a number of PN politicians earn their living through acting as nominees for foreigners investing in Malta.

Unfortunately, our political representatives are failing to see that it has been certain Maltese themselves who, through their behaviour, have focused the world’s attention on our financial set-up.

Already in the 1990s, stories of the recently defunct Totò Riina holding meetings in Gozo, though unconfirmed, made the rounds.

Moreover, in the same period Ital-ian Mani Pulite chief Antonino Caponnetto did not mince his words when he pointed out that the Mafia was taking advantage of Malta’s offshore set-up to traffic gold.

But that was the 1990s offshore period. Fast forward to the onshore period.

2009: Lawrence Gonzi does the biggest disservice to his country when, in order to get rid of his internal PN rival John Dalli, he kicks him upstairs to Brussels as Malta’s EU commissioner.

2012: Dalli goes on to distinguish himself first for the Snus affair and then, in 2015, after having been exposed by Daphne for his Bahamas dealings and alleged Ponzi-style scheming in tandem with Mary Swan. Result: first international spotlight on Maltese shady financial deals.

2015: The International press reveals that there is oil smuggling going on from Libya to Italy via Malta, with the operation run by Fahmi Slim Mousa Ben Khalifa in partnership with the Maltese corporation ADJ Trading Ltd. – the latter under its old name of ADJ Swordfish. The Maltese authorities do not act.

But a few weeks ago, the Catania magistrate arrests the two Maltese Debonos and mentions the following other 11 Maltese persons in his report: Rodrick, Kurt, Terence, Mary Louise, Christopher, Eddie, Mike, Karen, Anton, Alan, Noel and Kathleen. International spotlight on Malta.

2016: Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri are outed by Daphne Caruana Galizia and the Panama Papers. No action by Malta. International spotlight on Malta.

2016: Caruana Galizia reveals that Pilatus Bank is welcoming Azeri money. FIAU investigates. No action by Malta.

2016: Beppe Fenech Adami, director of Baltimore fiduciary and acting on behalf of Capital One Investment Group, is suspected of money laundering.

2016: Joe Bannister is outed as having a conflict of interest (president of MFSA, deputy chair of Finance Malta). No action by Malta.

2017: Daphne Caruana Galizia is assassinated by hidden powers.

2017: The phantomatic Prof. Joseph Mifsud is outed as the alleged contact for the Trump-Hilary-Russia leaks.

2017: Joe Bannister is outed by the Paradise Papers regarding his investments in Russian mining .

2017: Nemea Bank is outed by the Paradise Papers as the recipient of a €10 million Azeri investment.

2017: Italian Magistrate Creazzo arrests seven people involved in illegal betting.  They operate through the Maltese registered company, MediaLive Casino Ltd. Creazzo declares that there was a lack of collaboration by the Maltese authorities.

These are twelve reasons that the world is closely scrutinising our financial systems. Unfortunately, this undue attention has been self-inflicted by Maltese nationals and politicians, and no amount of silly, Maltese pseudo-patriotism can ever contradict such facts.

Proactive actions to remedy existing flaws in the system would be more useful than the continuous whining and finger pointing against the rest of the world that is “jealous” of us.

Arnold Cassola
Published on the Times of Malta​ – 28 November 2017