I could not believe my eyes reading the opinion piece by former prime minister and now MEP Alfred Sant (July 4). For probably the first time, he and I agree completely on the causes of Malta’s greylisting.
His analysis, though incomplete – since he purposely left out the alleged crimes of Joseph Muscat and Panama Papers account-holding ministers as well as the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder, the Electrogas, Vitals and other scandals that also led the FATF to greylist us – was spot on.
Malta built an economic model on the use of its main natural resource – its brain power – to aid and abet tax evaders and money launderers by creating tailor-made tax schemes for foreigners and providing them the means. This was doomed to crash sooner or later.
It lasted over 30 years because of Malta’s size. The number of tax evaders and money launderers was small and the amounts passing through the Maltese washing machine, big as they were for Malta, were too small to bother the larger economies of Europe.
A conference held earlier this month in a St Julian’s hotel found that “Malta’s banking sector, corporate service providers, lawyers and trustees as well as remote gaming were found to pose the highest risk of being used for money laundering”.
Just as in Panama, it is not only the people who opened the secret trustee-held accounts that were to blame and who were criminal. The Panamanian government built its economic model on secrecy and tax avoidance and the Mossack Fonsecas and other firms facilitated the criminals.
The Angolan dictator’s daughter hiding her blood money in Malta is criminal but so too were those who allegedly aided her in hiding her money and fronting her. The advisors to the gambling industry, opening allegedly Mafia gambling companies and acting as local directors and employees, were criminal. The bank raking in and hiding Azerbaijani accounts or Gaddafi family monies allegedly stolen during the dictatorship and hidden in Malta is criminal.
Malta will have to pay for the errors of our economic model
The French, Swedish, English, Russian, Italian, Belgian, Dutch, South African and other so-called retirees or residents and passport applicants, and so dedicated to sponsoring our culture and enjoying two- roomed flats here while spending most of the year in their chateaux, Florida estates, summer houses on the Frisian Isles or the Stockholm archipelago and enjoying tax holidays set up by crafty accountants on their behalf, producing electricity bills, golf course membership, spa and health treatment bills to create a ‘presence’ in Malta or Gozo, are all criminal.
Our problems are caused not only by the foreigners who use us for their tax and laundering needs but also and mostly by our educated classes of advisors, employees and willing property owners as well as by our regulators, the police, tax collectors who turn not only one blind eye but two.
We will only get out of this situation if the honest taxpaying Maltese population and businessmen arise and rally in Valletta, asking for a return to morality.
The Catholic Church is all damaged by the paedophile priests. The Canadian and British colonial powers are all damaged by the indigenous children killed in the prison homes. The entire German population and descendants will continue to be punished for the horrible crimes of the Nazis. The Israelis will one day have to pay for what they are doing to the Palestinians.
Malta will have to pay for the errors of our economic model and for the wrong advice given by our professional classes and for the alleged crimes of Muscat and his government.
Trying to use the economic section of our police force to seek out local businessmen and simple citizens who got carried away by the excesses of politicians, big businessmen and international Mafias to cheat a bit on their taxes will not satisfy the FATF. It will only be sending a message to the bigger sharks that they are above the law. Robert Abela is cowardly if he can only threaten the small and the weak, leaving the strong and the criminal to get away scot-free.
If the present prime minister does not listen to me, then he should listen to Sant. He should get going and overhaul the entire regulatory machine, place the Muscat regime culprits under investigation or else make way for another leadership that is prepared to do so.
We are all waiting, Robert Abela. Your dream of the five-point plan taken out of an elementary first year socio-economics course will not make Malta best in the world. It takes courage, which you do not seem to have.
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