European Commissioner for Justice Vĕra Jourová said there were gaps in Malta’s implementation of the EU’s latest anti-money laundering laws.
She said that the EU Commission would like to see Malta do more to improve its anti-money laundering systems.
“Criminals love loopholes. They will always use them,” she said.
The European Commissioner is in Malta holding several meetings with government ministers, national entities and stakeholders to discuss the various dossiers which fall within her portfolio. She is in Malta also looking into concerns related to the rule of law as well as the ongoing investigation into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
While she has more meetings tomorrow, she has already met with the Chief Justice, Ministers Helena Dalli and Chris Cardona, the Chamber of Advocates, representatives of the FIAU and others.
“The fight against money laundering is not just about protecting our financial systems; and the gaps in one member state have impact on all others. The money laundered in one country can and often does support crime in another.”
The Pilatus Bank case had revealed shortcomings, and the question was now to see whether this was just a one off case or part of a systemic problem. The European Banking Authority’s (EBA) investigation into the FIAU’s handling of Pilatus Bank could potentially lead to the initiation of infringement procedures, should deficiencies be found.
The EBA had said, early June, that the FIAU may have failed to ensure Pilatus bank put in place ant-money laundering procedures, and that sanctions were never imposed on the bank.
“Becoming a Maltese citizen also means becoming an EU citizen — with all its rights, including free movement. The Commission’s concern is to guarantee that EU citizenship is delivered to people who actually have links to the country in which they apply for citizenship.”
The Commission was carrying out an in-depth fact-finding study of all such schemes in the EU, she said.
Ms Jourová said that if the assessment of Malta’s scheme was not favourable, the Commission would work with the authorities on how to improve the scheme.
On the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, she stressed the importance of uncovering who the person behind the murder is. “We need to know the full truth. The mastermind of the murder cannot go unpunished. There is no place in the EU for the murder of journalists. This is not only a Maltese issue, as freedom of the press is at stake, and the work of journalists is crucial for democracies.”