Only 7 EU countries seen as being more corrupt
Malta is still perceived by country experts and business people as one of the “more” corrupt countries in Western Europe in spite of moving up one place on a Transparency International index.
The interviewees’ ratings are used to compile the Corruption Perceptions Index. Malta ranked 46th out of 180 countries in the index.
Just seven EU countries were perceived as being more corrupt - Italy, Slovakia, Croatia, Greece, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria.
Malta’s score had not significantly improved over time, indicating that the government was not making progress against corruption in the public sector, they told the Times of Malta.
Until very recently, the country’s anti-money-laundering framework had serious flaws, particularly on the rules related to politically exposed persons (PEPs), beneficial ownership transparency and due diligence by financial institutions, they added.
Mr Kelso and Ms Martini noted that the government had been “very slow” to respond to these issues, missing the deadline to transpose the Fourth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive.
Legislation on the directive was only adopted on December 19, 2017, and came into force in January of this year, Mr Kelso said.
“It remains to be seen how the new rules, including a beneficial ownership register, will be implemented and enforced,” he noted.
Pilatus Bank appears to have existed primarily for secretive kleptocratic transactions
He also said that it was not yet clear how the revelations made by the Daphne Project would impact Malta’s score in future editions of the index.
Transparency International also called on Malta’s law enforcement authorities to “conduct timeous, independent criminal investigations into all allegations of wrong-doing”. It also insisted that prosecution should remain impartial regardless of the positions held by those involved.
In a statement on its website, Transparency International said that Pilatus Bank “appears to have existed primarily to facilitate secretive kleptocratic transactions”.
The organisation was asked by the Times of Malta about how the bank’s operations reflected on the government and the country’s anti-money-laundering legislation.
Transparency International said the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit had alleged that Pilatus Bank showed a “glaring, possibly deliberate, disregard” for money-laundering controls.
Transparency International also called for an independent investigation of the due diligence process applied to Pilatus Bank and of whether the decision to grant the bank a licence could have been the result of political interference.
The organisation said that it remained unclear why no measures had been taken in spite of serious limitations highlighted by Malta’s main anti-money-laundering body.