Spread financial intelligence
Until June 2022, Malta was greylisted by the FATF for being a money-laundering hub. The greylisting was undoubtedly the result of failures of the country’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU). Nevertheless, its officials enjoy almost unlimited powers without transparency. They meet behind closed doors to decide on punishments. While enjoying such powers, they do not declare their conflicts of interest. A litany of companies has sued the FIAU.
A recent study has outlined that billions are still being laundered from illegal gambling through Malta’s casinos. This also falls under the responsibility of the FIAU. Despite this apparent failure, FIAU officials act with incredible omnipotence without public accountability.
The Maltese FIAU acts as judge, jury, and executioner according to companies and professionals who these FIAU officials have heftily fined. Article 39 of the Maltese Constitution states that only a Court ruled by a Magistrate or Judge can come up with fines for criminal actions.
In Malta, since 2016, according to a ruling of the Constitutional Court, such fines cannot only be imposed by a court of law. In 2018 the same court decided that such cases had to be made available both at the first and second instance, i.e., at all stages of the proceedings.
These companies also argue that Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights has been breached by FIAU. This article states that in determining his civil rights and obligations or any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law.
On 30th March 2023, a judgment is expected in a case launched by Phoenix Payments Limited against FIAU. This judgment can break the camel’s back at FIAU. Fintelegram is informed that FIAU officials have been doing their utmost to delay such proceedings because they fear they will personally be sued for damages in the future.
The FIAU officials have been accused of selectively choosing whom to fine or not. It did not fine Calamatta Cuschieri Investments Services despite shocking revelations in courts. The company handed huge amounts of cash to convicted criminals. The FIAU also failed to fine lawyer Pio Valletta, the flamboyant lawyer who resides in a luxurious Mellieha villa and drives around in a Bentley.
The FIAU includes Alfred Zammit, well-known in Malta for signing a document exonerating Pilatus Bank of any wrongdoing. Other officials include Kristina Arbociute and Rudolf Muscat, who made the headlines for the wrong reasons. It’s become a habit for FIAU, under the lead of Kenneth Farrugia, to ignore questions from international media.