Malta’s FinServices sector left reeling in wake of high-profile arrests on money laundering charges
Malta’s business community is in turmoil following recent damning developments in the investigation of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, the outgoing president of the Malta Chamber of Commerce said.
David Xuereb told sister newspaper BusinessToday this morning that the arrest and incarceration of a number of prominent individuals – including the former chief of staff of the country’s former prime minister, as well as a number of financial advisors, accountants and businessmen – on charges of money laundering, corruption and fraud, had Maltese businesses worried about what was yet to come.
“Most worrying is that these developments, and what is surely yet to come, will have a crippling effect on Maltese businesses and their hopes of investing, joining partnerships and enticing foreign businesses to join local endeavours,” he said.
Xuereb said the money laundering charges were particularly damning as Malta had for years worked hard to portray itself as a safe and forward-looking financial services centre of excellence.
“We are seeing this onslaught of scandals, revelations and legal proceedings because for many years, hardly any action was taken to follow up on reports and accusations,” he said. “My hope is that whatever else is to come, comes quickly.”
The compilation of evidence against Nexia BT partners Brian Tonna, Karl Cini and Manuel Castagna, and the company’s financial controller, started today. Proceedings against others, including Keith Schembri, are expected to start tomorrow.
Xuereb said that it was imperative that any necessary action is taken immediately and that all crimes, infringements and conspiracies are uncovered and solved and that any and all guilty parties are identified and punished.
However, once all legal and judicial processes are concluded, it is equally important that the country be in a position to move on.
Xuereb said that Malta’s reputation was nowadays in tatters.
“Our country and our businesses have lost their ability to develop lasting commercial relationships because foreign investors are now wary of us,” he said.