The global financial watchdog’s decision to grey list Malta on Wednesday came as no surprise to anyone. The writing was on the wall.
Despite the government’s best efforts to lobby in Malta’s favour, and despite the positive reforms carried out over the past months with regards to anti-money laundering legislation, it is clear that Malta is not yet trusted internationally in this field.
We do not wish to play the blame game, but some things cannot be left unsaid. What happened on Wednesday was the result of years of wrong decisions, failure to act and hard-headedness.
In accepting the ‘unjust’ FAFT verdict, Prime Minister Robert Abela conceded that episodes like the Panama Papers and other scandals certainly did not help Malta’s case.
The truth is that, under Joseph Muscat’s stewardship, Malta was anything but the best in Europe, or the world. Despite all the claims that the international community was being unfair towards Malta, it is now clearer than ever that Muscat’s administration messed up big time, and the real repercussions are now really starting to be felt.
All the reforms in our national financial institutions were not enough to convince some FATF members that Malta is fit to play on the big stage. It was made clear to us that we must pay for our transgressions and that there is so much more that we have to do to get out of this pickle – a job which mainly involves cleaning up our reputation.
The government did well to accept the verdict and to pledge that we will continue reforming our system in the coming months. But a golden opportunity was missed when the PM shunned the Opposition Leader’s offer to help.
Bernard Grech, in a conciliatory tone, said on Wednesday that a national task force should be set up to ensure that Malta makes its way back on the the FATF white list. But instead of taking up the offer, the PM tried to ridicule Grech, insisting that such a task force already exists. This from a PM who only a few minutes earlier had said that we must work in the spirit of ‘Team Malta.’
It is evident that, despite its best efforts, the task force failed to convince those who needed convincing. We must now look ahead, and what we need to pass the next FATF test is to show that this is a united country that genuinely wants to abandon the bad ways of the past and to move towards a better regulated future.
The government must take heed of all the suggestions that are being made to ensure that Malta ditches its bad reputation once and for all. These include scrapping our citizenship for sale scheme, which has been a bone of contention for many years and has now brought us into trouble with the European Commission.
The authorities must ensure that the political bigwigs who were associated with corruption and money laundering are properly and fully investigated. Money laundering prosecutions cannot remain reserved to businesspeople and normal citizens. The fact that one of the most controversial political figures in recent times still has a seat in Parliament does not bode well for the country.
It is easy to pinpoint those who were responsible for our current predicament, but our efforts now must be directed at getting out of this situation, not only for the sake of passing the next FATF assessment, but also because having strong authorities and regulations and having an economy that is built on honest foundations is what we all deserve.
Maltese businesses do not deserve a grey listed country, the Chamber of SMEs said Friday.
It was reacting to reports that Malta has been placed on the grey list by the Financial Action Task Force.
The fact that Malta has carried out an impressive level of effort in order to reach international AML obligations and build its institutions, is something that our organisation is well cognisant of, because our members have lived through it all, the chamber said.
Businesses, especially small businesses, have experienced a high level of regulatory compliance and costs associated to this, ever since Malta fell under the scrutiny of the EU and that of international players.
Operating an enterprise in Malta has become very difficult over the last years however this still does not compare to losing Malta’s reputation and operating from a grey listed country. Maltese businesses do not want to operate within an economy of shady repute and want their name cleared in the immediate.
It is now very important to really understand what Malta has missed out on and address the real problems that have landed Malta in this situation in the first place. Small businesses fear that what will come next from our policy makers will be more of the same and they will continue bearing the brunt for the deplorable actions carried out by a few.
The SME Chamber will therefore continue to monitor the situation in close contact with members in the coming days. The SME Chamber is also currently assessing how the grey listing will further impact the performance of our economy, amongst the most important of which in this case is the functioning and accessibility to banking facilities.
The Malta Chamber of SMEs will make use of all the resources that will become available out of the FATF exercise in order to ensure that the problems are tackled properly and in a timely manner. Malta’s reputation has now been very badly tarnished and we must all do our utmost to flip this over completely and rebuild Malta’s reputation in a way that leaves no room for doubt.
The Malta Chamber of SMEs calls on the government to make Malta the AML centre of excellence. Malta has now hit rock bottom and the only way to turn this around is to become THE country of repute when it comes to AML compliance.
For a country with limited resources like Malta, reputation was one of the pillars giving us standing. Regaining our reputable stand will not be an easy process, yet it is a must and an urgent one.
Jordan Henderson says Gareth Southgate’s response to his costly Euro 96 penalty miss against Germany showed the kind of mental strength that defines the current generation as they prepare for a rematch with their old rivals. England manager Southgate was a 25-year-old player when he stepped up for the spot-kick that was saved by Andreas Kopke during Germany’s shoot-out win in the Euro 96 semi-finals at Wembley. It was a bitter end to a tournament that still holds fond memories for England fans after their dramatic run to the last four. Southgate recovered from the crushing blow to play for England for another eight years, enjoying a long Premier League career at Aston Villa and Middlesbrough before going into management. Continue reading this article on SportsDesk, the sports website of the Times of Malta
The front pages of Times of Malta from 25 and 10 years ago. Become a Times of Malta premium member to gain full access to our archive dating back to January 1930.
An exhibition featuring works by Maltese and Russian artists is on display in the community hall of the Swieqi local council. Malta and Russia – Bridged by Art points to a link between two broad artistic milieus and how Maltese and Russian artists perceive Malta through their artistic works. The exhibition, hosted together with the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in Malta, aims to help foster dialogue through art. The local vernacular is preserved and refreshingly brought to light, with paintings of quaint wayside chapels, wildflowers and the omnipresent church-dotted skylines, which are some of the subjects which will be on display. Artworks by established Maltese and Russian artists like Paul Fenech, Ronald Muscat Azzopardi and Joe Farrugia, Anna Verbenets, Natasha Dadush and Svetlana Alexander, among others, will be on display. Places are still available for the second viewing of the exhibition taking place today, from 7.30 to 8.30pm. Viewings are available by appointment on [email protected] COVID-19 mitigation measures apply. Admission is free of charge.
The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) said it expected a steady recovery in the tourism sector this summer.
Welcoming the news that Malta has been added to UK’s green list, MHRA President Tony Zahra stated that, “This is an important development for the recovery of the Maltese tourism sector this year. UK is a very important source market for Malta and therefore it is expected that this news will lead to a resumption in bookings from the UK in the coming weeks”.
He said that this development is a well-deserved result for all the coordinated efforts spearhead by all stakeholders including Government, health authorities, investors, employers, operators, employees, and the very much appreciated cooperation of the general public.
MHRA commended the efforts spearheaded by Government in managing to create the right balance between the economy and the health and well-being of all. This indeed is a success story. But the challenges are not yet over. MHRA appeals to all involved not to let the guards down whilst the relaxation of certain protocols by the health authorities is now important in order to ensure that hospitality operations are run smoothly and hence service excellence is ensured.
Furthermore, MHRA appealed to the relevant authorities to adopt policies which fast track the recruitment of foreign workers to sustain the operations of our Hotels and Restaurants. Zahra said that, “we are now seeing light at the end of the tunnel, therefore now it’s time to work harder to rekindle a tourism sector, which today more than ever before, is critical for our general economy and the well-being of our people.”
World champion Lewis Hamilton fears it is “premature” to allow a capacity 140,000 crowd to attend the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Following talks between the British government and Silverstone chiefs, the race in July will be watched by the biggest sporting crowd in the country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year. The British Grand Prix takes place on July 18 and Silverstone bosses will be allowed to sell out for the entire weekend of qualifying and the race itself. However, Hamilton said he “was kind of split” over the issue. Continue reading this article on SportsDesk, the sports website of the Times of Malta
The away-goals rule was abolished Thursday by UEFA after 56 years as a fundamental way of deciding matches in its European club competitions.
The move was often proposed in recent years by club coaches who felt an idea from the 1960s was no longer relevant.
Games now tied on aggregate score after the regulation 90 minutes in the second leg will go direct to extra time and then to a penalty shootout.
UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin cited the “unfairness, especially in extra time, of obliging the home team to score twice when the away team has scored.”
UEFA cited several factors that “blurred the lines between playing at home and away” including more television coverage to better understand opponents’ styles, comfortable travel and better playing surfaces.
Čeferin said the rule outlived its usefulness and inhibited home teams from attacking “because they fear conceding a goal that would give their opponents a crucial advantage.”
Children aged between 12 and 15 will start receiving invitations to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before the weekend, Health Minister Chris Fearne said on Friday. Fearne had initially said that children would start receiving the invites last Monday, just as 70 per cent of Malta's adult population will be fully vaccinated against COVID. Those aged 16 and over started being vaccinated in May. That same month the EU's drug watchdog approved the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus jab for 12 to 15-year-olds, saying the vaccine was "well-tolerated" in children and there were no "major concerns" in terms of side effects The news comes just as Malta announced that UK arrivals have to present a vaccine certificate from June 30. The UK has also added Malta to its quarantine-free green list, in a major boost to the hard-hit tourism industry. Up until Thursday, 640,729 COVID vaccine doses were administered in Malta, with the health authorities reporting that 299,151 people have been fully vaccinated against the virus. Meanwhile, some 7,000 people who have been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca jab will receive their second dose earlier than planned as a precaution against the Delta variant.
Although aware that corruption exists, most Maltese respondents to a Transparency International study admitted they fear reprisals if they come forward. In view of the details that emerged over the past months showing how widespread the web of corruption is, they can hardly be blamed. Furthermore, the Whistleblower Act, approved by parliament in late 2013 to address such situations, never really took off and has still to be brought in line with an EU directive on the subject. The Transparency International study found that only nine per cent of respondents think corruption is no problem at all within the national government and five per cent say they do not have an opinion. The rest deem government corruption to be a very big problem, quite big or very small, in that order. Still, only a handful of ‘whistleblowers’ have come forward, most, if not all, ending up being persecuted if not prosecuted, with the alleged wrongdoers laughing all the way to their fat bank accounts. No wonder 56 per cent of the survey respondents are hesitant to speak up. Possibly, most of them do not realise that legislation is in place to protect them, which does not say much of those whose duty it is to...
A magistrate on Brazil's Supreme Court on Thursday annulled two more cases against former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva that had been brought by former judge Sergio Moro, who had previously been deemed by the same court to have been "biased" in convicting and jailing the iconic leftist leader. The latest ruling invalidates all the evidence collected by Moro, meaning the trial process will have to start again from scratch. That diminishes the chances of a relatively quick verdict being delivered that would block the 75-year-old Lula, as he is popularly known, from running for president in 2022. Socialist Lula claimed his conviction was politically motivated in a bid to prevent him from running against President Jair Bolsonaro in the 2018 election that brought the far-right politician to power. Supreme Court magistrate Gilmar Mendes said there were "factual and legal" links between the case in which Moro was declared "biased" and the other two cases that passed through the judge's court in the southern city of Curitiba during his massive anti-corruption campaign known as "Operation Car Wash." Therefore, Mendes ordered an annulment of "all the decision-making actions"...
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our economy, along with other countries around the world. On its part, the European Commission responded to this crisis with a wide-ranging package of instruments aimed at softening the blow of this exogenous shock. This included a Pandemic Crisis Support instrument via the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), temporary loans to fund national short-term work schemes and similar measures in order to safeguard jobs within EU member states, as part of the SURE initiative. For its part, the European Investment Bank (EIB) provided liquidity support to businesses. More importantly, the EU agreed on a €750 billion instrument called Next Generation EU, intended to assist member states to recover from the economic crisis. Dealing with COVID-19 has proved very challenging both from a health and economic perspective. However, as the crisis subsides and the economy recovers, we should not steer away from medium and long-term objectives, as outlined in the European Green Deal, the Sustainable Growth Strategy and the European Pillar for Social Rights. If anything, these aims recognise the need to rejig our economy to ensure sustainable growth in the years to...
The following are the top stories in Malta's newspapers on Friday. Times of Malta leads with news that the UK has finally added Malta to its quarantine-free green list, in a major boost to the hard-hit tourism industry. In a separate article, it reports that Malta has ended up being greylisted by FATF mainly because of “insufficient enforcement”, according to sources. The Malta Independent also followed up the FATF greylisting, quoting the Malta Employers' Association, which referred to the move as a "terrible auto-goal for Maltese economy". l-orizzont meanwhile refers to comments by the General Workers' Union, which is calling for a collective, national effort to help Malta regain credibility. In-Nazzjon refers to comments by Opposition leader Bernard Grech who on Thursday reiterated his call for a national task force that would help Malta get off FATF's greylist.
FATF has voted, making Malta effectively the first European Union member state to be greylisted. The questions which naturally emerge at this point are two: how did we get here and how do we move on? What got us here is not a matter of opinion, it is a state of fact or, rather, of one scandalous and contemptible fact after another. The Moneyval journey Malta embarked on many years ago was a consistently healthy, positive and constructive one. One report after another always indicated where we could improve but always highlighted our strong legal framework; our valid and highly-reputable body of well-trained employees and professionals; a firm and effective regulator and equivalent banking system, together with a jurisdiction of good governance spearheaded by effective institutions. This is a fact. Also a fact is that all this changed drastically in 2013 when the country almost immediately started paying the price of the meteoric money rise of a group of individuals embroiled in one carefully-studied, well-planned and callously-executed tainted contract after another. As from 2013, our Moneyval journey turned into a downward spiral not of our own making but as a direct...
Obituaries GRIMA. On December 27, 2020, MICHAEL of Rabat, widower of Doris née Micallef, aged 95, passed away peacefully comforted by the rites of Holy Church. He leaves to mourn his loss his children Charlie and his wife Mae, Marianne and her husband Tony, Josette and her husband Lorenzo, Antoinette and her husband Mario, grandchildren Danielle and her husband Stephen, Julian and his wife Betsy, Christian and Andrea, great-grandchildren Elena, Kian, Giulia and Zayn, his brothers, other relatives and friends. Funeral Mass will be celebrated tomorrow, Saturday, June 26, at Ta’ Ġieżu Franciscan church, Rabat, at 9am. No flowers by request but donations to Dar Bjorn, Qormi, will be greatly appreciated. Lord, grant him eternal rest. MICALLEF. On June 23, at Dar il-Madonna tal-Mellieħa, JOSEPHINE, from Paola aged 90, passed away peacefully by the rites of Holy Church. She leaves to mourn her loss her son Pierre and his partner Soraya, her grandchildren, Jean-Luc, Kane, Kelly and Luis, nephews and nieces, other relatives and friends.The funeral cortège leaves Mater Dei Hospital today, Friday, June 25, at 8am, for Christ The King parish church, Paola, where Mass præsente cadavere will...
Malta ended up being greylisted by an international anti-money laundering body mainly because of “insufficient enforcement”. Sources privy to the decision said certain key international partners within the financial action task force were unimpressed by the steps taken by Malta to effectively crackdown on financial crime and terrorism financing. While Malta was able to demonstrate a raft of anti-money laundering reforms on paper, the FATF deemed that this had not translated into enough prosecutions and convictions. The reasons behind the greylisting have so far been shrouded in secrecy. Formal acknowledgement of the FATF’s greylisting, and the reasons behind it, are only expected to be announced on Friday (today). Prime Minister Robert Abela has labelled the greylisting as “unjust”, a sentiment echoed by his predecessor Joseph Muscat. “I fully concur with the prime minister’s comments,” Muscat said in a short comment when contacted by Times of Malta on Thursday. Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has dismissed hopes of being taken off the grey list as early as October. Speaking on Thursday on TVM programme Xtra, Caruana said the date is “unrealistic” with sources saying a revision...
Security of the person Pro-abortion C. John Zammit of Ontario (June 2) demeans erudite pro-life opinionists who argued their case against abortion on sound ethical principles. He insultingly called their efforts “comical” and “cruel to women”. He quoted someone saying that according to the US constitution “A woman has every right to make her own reproductive choices”. That may be so but a woman who does not want to be pregnant should not allow herself to get into that state and her reproductive rights do not give her the freedom to destroy a human life helplessly dependent on hers for a few months. If a woman decides to have an abortion, it is she who would be cruel. Personal rights involve responsibility in their use. The right to life is supreme at any stage of human existence. Zammit also advances the Roe & Wade US Supreme Court case that opened the way to abortion but he fails to add that the perpetrator of that notorious case regretted her action when she became aware of the worldwide genocide by abortion resulting from that court judgment, which was strangely based on privacy laws and not on the more relevant superior laws related to the sanctity of human life! Quoting...
A communications exhibition has been inaugurated by Nadur archpriest Jimmy Xerri at the parish centre in Triq Xandriku. The 16 objects on exhibit tell the story of how man, through these media, was able to communicate his ideas and sentiments with others. Mgr Xerri said that the exhibition seeks to relate how important it was for man to be close and in contact with others, especially now in the current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The creation of this exhibition confirms our commitment to promote several means of communications that benefit the community. Although this has changed with time, the exhibits on display will help conserve their legacy for future generations,” Mgr Xerri said. The exhibition is open for visitors daily from 5pm until 6.30pm. On Sunday, June 27, it will be open between 10.30am and noon.
Mario Saliba presented a copy of his book, Ħajja u Mewt: Il-Mard u s-Saħħa fi Żmien L-Arċipriet Dun Martin Camilleri (1910-1921) to Nadur archpriest Jimmy Xerri. The presentation took place after Mass celebrated for COVID-19 frontliners at St Peter and St Paul Basilica on Tuesday, June 22. The book contains a wealth of information on the medical and social history of Gozo during the first two decades of the 20th century. Dr Saliba presents the results of important research on the health and social situation in Gozo at that time, and the contribution archpriest Martin Camilleri of Nadur made to improve the livelihoods of his parishioners. During this period Gozo was neglected by the British authorities and was riddled with great famine and misery. The author casts his gaze further away from the narrow confines of a parish, church and band. There are other aspects of life that deserve attention, research and writing. Ħajja u Mewt: Il-Mard u s-Saħħa fi Żmien L-Arċipriet Dun Martin Camilleri contains original documents that have never been published about the Spanish flu in Gozo of 1918-1919 and accounts of several other infectious diseases common in Gozo at that time. Dr Saliba...
The United Kingdom has added Malta to its green travel list, with the British government revealing the news on Thursday night.
Malta was the only European country to be added to the green list, with the Balearic Islands and Madeira being the only other European territories added.
Malta being put on the green list means that travellers will not have to face a period of self-isolation or quarantine period upon their return. They do still however have to do a swab test before returning to the UK.
The new list comes into force on Wednesday 30 June at 4am (GMT).
Northern Ireland was the first to announce Malta’s addition to the green list, with Scotland and England following suit within the hour.
The UK is currently on Malta’s amber list, which means that travellers must present a negative swab test before boarding their flight.
Malta’s inclusion comes at the third review of the travel list, after the country was excluded from the first two lists in the past months – with some pointing at the notion that it was a politically-motivated decision rather than a scientific one.
The decision will no doubt prove to be a boon for the touristic industry, given that the UK was already Malta’s biggest incoming tourist market and also given that Malta is essentially the only European destination that the British can travel to without facing a period of self-isolation when they return home.
It does however come amidst increased concern on an increase in Covid-19 cases. Just today, UK health authorities reported over 16,000 new cases of the virus, most of which are of the far more transmissible Indian Delta variant – the circulation of which has thus far been largely curbed in Malta.
Health authorities are acting to try and mitigate the spread of the variant: on Thursday The Malta Independent reported that some 7,000 people had had their appointment for the second dose of their AstraZeneca moved forward by three weeks, with the intention here being that full protection of the vaccine is given as soon as possible.