Tax authorities have investigated 237 cases in connection with the 2016 Panama Papers leak and a further 96 over Swiss Leaks and have so far recouped more than €27.6 million, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said on Wednesday. 

Scicluna said €14.2 million was recovered from 163 concluded cases following the Panama Papers revelations. A further 74 cases are still pending. 

The Panama Papers leak revealed the use of offshore companies by criminals, celebrities and politicians around the world to hide and launder their money away from tax authorities.

According to the Tax Compliance Unit, there were 237 taxpayers in Malta who featured in the Panama Papers – 163 individuals, 62 companies and 12 trustees.

In the case of Swiss Leaks, the tax authorities investigated 96 cases, with two still pending. The amount collected so far was of €13.4 million. 

Scicluna was replying to parliamentary questions by Nationalist MP Claudio Grech.

Those who settled with the taxman have, so far, escaped any criminal action.
Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, and former Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi were found to have opened secret companies in Panama sheltered by trusts in New Zealand.

Neither registered these trusts with the local tax authorities, an ‘oversight’ which they blamed on their financial advisers, Nexia BT.

Both have been investigated by the government’s anti-money-laundering agency, and multiple magisterial inquiries into money-laundering claims are under way.

A 2019 assessment report by Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering body, had found that the police carried out very few investigations on their own initiative when it came to money-laundering.

FIAU reports about politically-exposed persons revealed in the Panama Papers to have secretive offshore structures have not yet resulted in any prosecutions by the police.

Former Economic Crimes Unit superintendent, Ian Abdilla, told a public inquiry into the death of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia earlier this month that four years since the Panama Papers scandal broke out, he would have handled matters differently. 

“At that time, none of us had the audacity to take certain decisions. Today I would kickstart an inquiry there and then, appoint officers and make a move. But back then [2016] it was a first,” said Abdilla, as another two-hour long grilling drew to an end. 

“Criticise us as much as you like. Maybe we took the wrong decisions back then,” he said, as questions were fired by all three judges on the board, seemingly perplexed by the fact that the police had not acted immediately upon a first letter by the FIAU advising them to “seize computers and servers from Nexia BT” and from Castille too.

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