EBA’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into FIAU could lead to in­fringe­ment pro­ce­dures if se­ri­ous de­fi­cien­cies found - EU Com­mis­sioner

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Kevin Scem­bri Or­land

The Eu­ro­pean Bank­ing Au­thor­ity’s (EBA) in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the FIAU’s han­dling of Pi­la­tus Bank could po­ten­tially lead to the ini­ti­a­tion of in­fringe­ment pro­ce­dures, should de­fi­cien­cies be found.

The EBA had said, early in June, that the FIAU may have failed to en­sure Pi­la­tus Bank put in place anti-money laun­der­ing pro­ce­dures, and that sanc­tions were never im­posed on the bank.

The Malta In­de­pen­dent asked the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sioner for Jus­tice, Con­sumers and Gen­der Equal­ity Věra Jourová what the po­ten­tial next steps could be, should sys­tem­atic de­fi­cien­cies be found in the FIAU.

“Any time we see sys­temic prob­lems with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of EU law, we have the pos­si­bil­ity of launch­ing in­fringe­ment pro­ce­dures, and this is what we are do­ing (with re­gard to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the fourth An­tiMoney Laun­der­ing Di­rec­tive, as her spokesper­son clar­i­fied later). We are run­ning in­fringe­ment pro­ce­dure and we are as­sess­ing the sys­tem on a con­tin­u­ous ba­sis. At the same time, we asked the EBA to dig fur­ther into this par­tic­u­lar case as we need to know what hap­pened there, and then to look into it in a wider con­text.”

She also urged the Mal­tese au­thor­i­ties to co­op­er­ate with the EBA, and fol­low its rec­om­men­da­tions. The Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sioner is in Malta hold­ing sev­eral meet­ings with gov­ern­ment min­is­ters, na­tional en­ti­ties and stake­hold­ers to dis­cuss the var­i­ous dossiers which fall within her port­fo­lio. She is in Malta also look­ing into con­cerns re­lat­ing to the rule of law as well as

the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the as­sas­si­na­tion of jour­nal­ist Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia.

While she has more meet­ings to­day, she has al­ready met with the Chief Jus­tice, Min­is­ters He­lena Dalli and Chris Car­dona, the Cham­ber of Ad­vo­cates, and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the FIAU and oth­ers.

On the as­sas­si­na­tion of Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia, she stressed the im­por­tance of un­cov­er­ing who the per­son be­hind the mur­der is. “We need to know the full truth. The mas­ter­mind of the mur­der can­not go un­pun­ished. There is no place in the EU for the mur­der of jour­nal­ists. This is not only a Mal­tese is­sue, as free­dom of the press is at stake, and the work of jour­nal­ists is cru­cial for democ­ra­cies.”

She stressed the need to cre­ate a safe en­vi­ron­ment for jour­nal­ists. “If jour­nal­ists be­come afraid of writ­ing cer­tain sto­ries, then we will all be in trou­ble.”

She spoke of the fight against money laun­der­ing and about gaps in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the fourth Anti-Money Laun­der­ing Di­rec­tive in Malta.

She said that gaps in reg­u­la­tion in one state had an im­pact on oth­ers. “Money laun­der­ing in one EU state sup­ports crime in an­other.” She said that she was con­fi­dent the au­thor­i­ties would ad­dress the is­sues.

She said that the EU was also fol­low­ing the IIP pro­gramme. “Be­com­ing a Mal­tese cit­i­zen means be­com­ing an EU cit­i­zen, in­clud­ing free­dom of move­ment. In 2014 we re­quired the Mal­tese au­thor­i­ties to only give cit­i­zen­ship to peo­ple who have a link to the coun­try and who re­side here for one year. I want to be as­sured that this is in­spected. We have teams work­ing on a re­port on schemes grant­ing cit­i­zen­ship for in­vestors across the EU, and are look­ing into leg­is­la­tion prac­tices in all mem­ber states con­cerned, in­clud­ing Malta. The re­port is to be pub­lished by the end of year.

She spoke pos­i­tively about Malta’s agree­ment to join to Eu­ro­pean Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tors Of­fice.

As for the fifth Anti Money Laun­der­ing Di­rec­tive, she men­tioned that it would in­clude en­hanced con­trol sys­tems cov­er­ing bit­coin and vir­tual cur­ren­cies, and also the reg­is­tra­tion of ben­e­fi­cial own­ers.

Photo: Michael Camil­leri

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