The EU's chief prosecutor said she was unable to identify the institution in Malta responsible for detecting financial crimes, recalling how nobody could provide her with answers on fraud investigations during a visit to the island. 

On Wednesday, Laura Codruța Kövesi from the European Public Prosecutor's Office, raised concerns that Malta was only supporting her office with words and "not with facts". 

"I visited Malta, I had meetings with the national authorities and after two days it was very difficult for me to identify the institution that is responsible to detect the crimes because all of them said: “It’s not me, it’s them”.

"And when I visited them they said: “it’s not us, it’s them”. So we still have to work on this," Kovesi said.

EU prosecutor Laura Codruța Kövesi describes the situation in Malta. Video: European Parliament

During her visit to Malta in October, Kovesi had held meetings with the National Audit Office, the Commissioner of Police, the Attorney General as well as the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit.  

The prosecutor made the comments as she replied to MEP's questions during a meeting with the LIBE and CONT committees. 

She also warned that if member states do not do their job, the EPPO cannot do it for them. 

This was not the first time Kovesi has spoken out against Malta's efforts to fight financial crimes. 

In October, the prosecutor said that not a single actionable report of fraud related to EU funds had come from Malta and raised concerns that a lack of reporting from the country could mean possible abuse is going unchecked.  

The EPPO was established in 2017 to investigate, prosecute and bring to judgment crimes against the EU’s financial interests, such as fraud, corruption or serious cross-border VAT fraud.

Malta had initially declined to join the office but reversed that decision in 2018 after an international spotlight was cast on the government’s failure to fight corruption following the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Meanwhile, also speaking during Wednesday's meeting, German MEP Monika Hohlmeier likened the situation in Malta to that in Greece some years back. 

"The problems we saw in Malta were ones we used to see in Greece in the past. There was always someone new in charge. Someone was always ready to point to someone else who was absent unfortunately and unable to answer our questions.

"That really did make things difficult for us," she said.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us