The Council of Europe's permanent anti-money laundering monitoring body has been requested to investigate the Financial Intelligence Advisory Unit and Pilatus Bank by Nationalist MEP David Casa.
The body, Moneyval, is sending an evaluation team to Malta in November to assess Malta’s compliance with the principal international standards to counter money laundering and the effectiveness of their implementation.
Mr Casa’s concerns are related to “the political capture” of the FIAU, the granting of a licence to Pilatus Bank and the circumstances under which the bank has been allowed to continue to hold that license.
He made reference to an FIAU letter sent to Pilatus Bank immediately following the resignation of director Manfred Galdes.
“Immediately following the resignation of Manfred Galdes, the FIAU sent a team for a follow-up on-site inspection.
"On the basis of this second inspection the then acting director miraculously concluded that the issues with the bank were now closed in view of missing documents having been provided.
"The suggestion that glaring and deliberate anti-money laundering violations in May can be rectified by the forwarding of documents in August is laughable”, Mr Casa said.
Although Mr Galdes’ resignation was revealed on August 2, it had actually taken place sometime before July 21. Pilatus was informed a second on-site inspection would take place on July 21.
The on-site inspection was held between August 8 and 10 and a letter signed by the acting director clearing Pilatus Bank was dated September 26.
“It is amply clear that this was a whitewashing exercise”, Mr Casa said.
He asked for the attention of the evaluation team to be drawn to the leaked FIAU reports calling for police action against PM chief of staff Keith Schembri and informed Moneyval of the conclusive FIAU report calling for police action into Minister Konrad Mizzi that had been buried by the FIAU since March last year.
“The FIAU has been usurped. It is now more occupied with weekend press releases and burying information that incriminates their political masters than investigating money laundering”, he said.
He called on Moneyval’s executive secretary Matthias Kloth to share this information with the team, which will be conducting Malta’s evaluation under Moneyval’s fifth round evaluation.
Mr Casa requested the evaluation team to pay special attention to:
* The granting of a licence to Pilatus Bank in view of the fit and proper requirements set out under Financial Action Task Force recommendation 26 relating to the regulation and supervision of financial institutions;
* The circumstances under which Pilatus Bank has been allowed to continue to operate;
* The autonomy and independence of the FIAU;
* The role of Malta’s Individual Investor Programme in aiding the circumvention of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Common Reporting Standards and facilitating money laundering and tax evasion through the opening of bank accounts and the acquisition of immovable property in the European Union by third country nationals holding Maltese passports.
Mr Casa’s letter to Moneyval executive secretary Matthias Kloth can be read in the pdf link below.
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