MEPs clash with Joseph Muscat over Malta’s money-laundering role
The newly re-elected Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, has been invited to appear before MEPs from the European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion (PANA) in order to answer questions about money-laundering violations in Malta as well as his own integrity in relation to recent ‘Panama Papers’ leaks.
The scandal-hit Maltese leader endured a barrage of criticisms from the plenary in Strasbourg this afternoon, with GUE/NGL’s and PANA Committee Vice-Chair Fabio De Masi one of many who cast doubt on Muscat and the Maltese government’s commitment to stamping out money-laundering and tax evasion on the Mediterranean island.
Muscat was re-elected as Prime Minister of Malta earlier this month after calling a snap poll in the wake of the ‘Panama Papers’ leaks which revealed allegations of corruption engulfing his wife and political allies.
His country also currently holds the EU rotating presidency.
Speaking in Strasbourg, De Masi was highly critical of Malta’s repeated violations of EU laws on tax evasion:
"The social democratic government of Malta is brimming with criminal energy. Members of the cabinet appear in the ‘Panama Papers’ and Malta is a paradise for money laundering.”
“Let’s put it bluntly: the money that protects Malta has blood on it,” said the German MEP.
“Nevertheless, the ruling party got re-elected. But this is of no surprise as there is no alternative; the opposition conservatives have just as many skeletons in their closets.”
Malta’s role as a money-laundering and tax evasion capital has long been an open secret, with MEPs from the PANA Committee travelling there on a fact-finding mission back in February this year in a bid to uncover the truth, with De Masi adding:
“The EU must now deliver on the following points: the Council and Commission must, together with us, close the loopholes in the money laundering directive,” he urged.
“In addition, the tax haven blacklist must also include EU member states like Malta.”
'We need withholding taxes for uncooperative countries'
“What Europe needs is credibility and not deals with the tax mafia," De Masi concluded.