Updated 2pm with PN reaction
The Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit board must explain how damning reports probing alleged kickbacks were leaked, who leaked them and for what reason, the Finance Minister warned this morning.
"What is money laundering? What was ignored? I want to know whether they [the authors of the report] were really apolitical. [I want to know] whether there are characters on whichever side who turned their heads away," Prof. Edward Scicluna said.
The minister was contesting a question by Times of Malta that the FIAU could have leaked reports to the press because the police had failed to act on suspicious money laundering activities.
The FIAU carried out a preliminary report on the Panama Papers leaks and suspicious money laundering activities involving chief of staff Keith Schembri, among others.
Prof. Scicluna will be going to Strasbourg with the Prime Minister later today to attend a European Parliament debate which will discuss Malta and the rule of law, following the Panama Papers revelations.
He said the FIAU had to explain why certain "characters" had been mentioned in their reports and not others.
"Were these reports written to be leaked? I'm just asking questions. For the sake of the rule of law one has to be rest assured that we can have a strong institution."
Prof. Scicluna said the claims will also be examined by Moneyval [Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism at the Council of Europe], and the Financial Sector Assessment Programme FSAP.
PN calls for investigation outcome to be published
The Nationalist Party expressed its concern about Prof. Scicluna’s remarks, saying that as the minister responsible for the FIAU, he should ensure that steps were taken against the reports of criminal activity by Mr Schembri and Konrad Mizzi – and not attack those who leaked them.
It challenged him to confirm that investigations were carried out and to publish the outcome in full.
“An election does not in any way erase the facts that, in more than one report, the FIAU found reasonable suspicion that Keith Schembri was involved in corruption, bribery and money laundering. The same can be said for Konrad Mizzi,” it said.
The PN added that Prof. Scicluna’s duty was not to threaten those who had worked on the investigations but to ensure that the law in Malta applied to everyone, including Mr Schembri, Dr Mizzi and [Prime Minister] Joseph Muscat.
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