In an interview given to RAI TV on February 12, 1991, the Italian anti-Mafia judge Giovanni Falcone stated: “This is not a personal fight between us and the Mafia. If only people could understand that this should be a commitment – that is extraordinary in its ordinariness – by every one of us, with regard to a phenomenon that is unworthy of a civil country, then things would certainly be much better.”

Falcone and Paolo Borsellino were assassinated on May 23 and July 19, 1992 because they committed their lives to fighting injustice in the way it penetrates everyday life. These dates are commemorated in Italy and in Europe as symbolic of the fight for truth and justice.

The system of inquiry Falcone set up, known today as the ‘Falcone method’, is summed up by the slogan ‘Follow the money’.

It consists of tracing sums of money across national and international banks, including by examining current and bearer accounts, in order to identify suspect movement of financial capital and trace its sources. This method has given rise to the all-important anti-mafia law known as ‘416bis’. There is currently a strong lobby for the EU to extend this law across all its member countries. It is certainly needed in Malta.

What does an anti-mafia law consist of? It looks into corrupt practices which result in illicit financial gain. It pursues those who gang up to use organised silence (omertà), intimidation or subjection to acquire the control of economic activities, public tenders, concessions, authorisations etc.

It targets those who obtain unjust advantages or profits for themselves or for others. It attacks those who obtain votes for themselves during elections through illicit deals. It punishes collusion between politicians and big business.

Falcone and Borsellino formed part of a pool of magistrates who focused solely on unlawful financial dealings, which led to uncovering rings involved in drugs, arms and other illegal trade. In pursuing these affairs, Falcone established strong teamwork between the judiciary, the police, the financial police, the tax department and other entities concerned, as well as transnational collaboration.

Our Maltese mafia dealings have been brought to public knowledge mainly through the hard work of journalists belonging to our independent newspapers, inspired by the sterling work started by Daphne Caruana Galizia and for which she was assassinated on October 16, 2017 – Malta’s day of remembrance for truth and justice. 

No investigation into big businessmen is ever conducted- Vicki Ann Cremona

The sleazy deals that are agreed upon and give rise to the jungle of buildings, unexplainable but expensive roadworks, unjustified and unjustifiable direct orders and standards of living that are incompatible with the salaries of politicians, high officials and certain so-called ‘businessmen’ demonstrate the urgency to have an anti-mafia law.

They also show the urgent need for a pool of competent magistrates solely dedicated to doing the work that has, up to now, only been undertaken by a handful of policemen courageously fighting their own institution, a sprinkling of honest civil servants and a number of resolute judges and magistrates with shockingly little time and means at their disposal. 

Our prosecution service has shown its shameful inefficacy and ineffectiveness time and time again. Resources to prosecute financial crime are seriously lacking and there does not seem to be the political will to ensure that they are in place and functioning properly.

Take, for example, the FIAU’s prolonging inertia following the Panama Papers, which led to its former chief raising the need for a total shake-up of this institution.

Given the fact that five years after the murder of Caruana Galizia, not one person – except the one who confessed – has finally been put on trial for their evil deed, says much about the slowness of judicial intervention.

The situation is even worse with regard to financial crimes such as those allegedly committed by persons we are fed up of reading about: Joseph Muscat, Chris Cardona, Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi, Karl Cini, Brian Tonna, the directors, senior managers and owner of Pilatus Bank, all the persons involved in some way with the sale of our hospitals… the list seems endless.

Many new names can now be added to this list that grows longer and longer with every new scandal. No investigation into big businessmen is ever conducted and this country keeps renegotiating the taxes these persons owe, approving and condoning shady deals, such as properties they should not build in the first place and closing its eyes to the innumerable abuses committed.

Given the inertia and inefficacy of our government and rubber-stamping MPs – who have once again shamed Malta in their recent show of cowardice with regard to the indomitable Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – it is up to civil society to fight for this law. And fight we will, with the help of those of our fellow countrymen and women who want to see truth and justice finally reign in Malta.

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