Tax system, not individuals, is the key problem in Malta
"It is disappointing that some of the central figures named in the Panama Papers and other tax evasion and money-laundering scandals refused to meet with the parliamentary inquiry committee."
GUE/NGL MEP, Miguel Viegas, has questioned the Maltese Minister for Finance and gained clarification on issues of tax evasion in Malta during a fact-finding mission to Valletta this week.
Speaking at the conclusion of the fact-finding mission held by the European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion GUE/NGL MEP Miguel Viegas gave his assessment of the meetings held:
"Two things were clear for us. First, members of both the conservatives and the social democrats in Malta have serious questions to answer relating to their involvement in money-laundering and tax evasion as exposed in the Panama Papers.”
"Second, despite some divisions, both sides of the political spectrum closed ranks to defend the Maltese tax system, which provides significant advantages for multinationals engaging in tax avoidance, particularly for those relating to intellectual property.”
"In this regard, Malta is not different from other EU countries such as Luxembourg or the Netherlands.”
The delegation held meetings in the Maltese capital Valletta with Minister for Finance, Edward Scicluna; the Financial Analysis Intelligence Unit (FIAU); the Maltese Financial Services Authority; investigative journalists; and politically exposed persons (PEPs) including Labour Party Minister, Konrad Mizzi, and Nationalist Party Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, Beppe Fenech Adami.
"It is disappointing that some of the central figures named in the Panama Papers and other tax evasion and money-laundering scandals refused to meet with the parliamentary inquiry committee – namely, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri; the Nexia BT accountants who set up the structures named in the Panama Papers; and the former Nationalist Party Minister Resources and Infrastructure Ninu Zammit, who had incorporated a company in the British Virgin Islands through Mossack Fonseca,” Viegas lamented.
“The partisan polarisation of the debate arising from the Panama Papers in Malta is extreme and was evident among members of the Maltese government and opposition, the Maltese MEPs participating in the fact-finding mission, and the various media outlets reporting on the Panama Papers in Malta,” the Portuguese MEP continued.
During the meetings, Viegas questioned Finance Minister, Edward Scicluna, on Malta's opposition in the European Council to several anti-tax avoidance initiatives including the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) and whether Malta could be relied upon during its Presidency of the Council to ensure progress is made on these initiatives.
Viegas said: "Whilst Malta is clearly benefiting from the presence of multinationals, this comes at a cost to other countries estimated at 14 billion euros between 2012 and 2015 as a result of Malta’s 'full imputation' tax system, according to Malta Today.”
"I welcome Minister Scicluna's commitment to the PANA fact-finding mission that, despite his personal opposition to initiatives such as the CCCTB, Malta intends to play a proactive role in the Council to ensure the approval of anti-tax avoidance measures including the CCCTB," the Portuguese MEP concluded.