Monica Macovei: Justice in Malta still undermined by corruption
The European Parliament fact finding mission concluded that justice in Malta is seriously undermined by corruption, institutional buck-passing, conflicts of interest, nepotism, and the perception that there is impunity for offenders. ECR delegate MEP Monica Macovei, herself a respected human rights and anti-corruption lawyer, sought answers on appropriate due diligence in the licensing of Pilatus Bank, allegedly linked to the Azerbaijani President Aliyev’s family and Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri. Despite not responding to Parliament letters and invitations to meet, Mr Schembri did appear as part of the ninety minute face to face with Prime Minister Muscat and members of his cabinet, but he was unwilling to give any relevant answers.
At the end of the fact finding mission the following concerns remain:
•Failure to begin any prosecution against any politically exposed persons, even when financial regulatory documents were published showing “grave concerns about money laundering” by some politicians.
•The fact that there have been five police commissioners in the past four years and that the economic crimes unit of the police force is seemingly inactive.
•Vote buying at elections being common practice.
•Scarcity of independent journalists.
The Chief Justice explained that the only safeguard against corruption in the judiciary is to have a good selection process to ensure the morality of appointees; but he admitted that neither these had been done to date.
This was the first Parliament investigative mission since the car bomb assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galicia, and was designed to get answers from government, financial intelligence and analysis unit (FIAU), law-enforcement officials, financial supervisors, NGO, media, and judicial authorities.
“We were not assured that criminal investigations are producing results against money laundering and corruption following revelations in the Panama Papers”, said MEP Macovei. “I’m appalled that the death of Daphne and the courage of her family and friends seeking justice, has not been rewarded with prosecutions.”