Good progress in implementing AML action plan – FATF / Malta News Briefing – Thursday 21 October 2021

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Updated 1919 – FATF sees good progress by Malta in implementing its action plan

Malta has made “good progress” in implementing an action plan to seek removal from the FATF grey-listing though more work is required to reach such objective. FATF president Marcus Pleyer said in a press briefing today that since Malta’s grey-listing in June, more intelligence had been disseminated to police about potential tax crimes, leading to more tax investigations.

Pleyer highlighted the fact that significant fines had also been issued for the filing of incorrect company ownership details with the Malta business registry. He cautioned that more work remains, as none of the points on Malta’s action plan had been largely addressed in the short time since the country’s grey listing. (Times of Malta)

Latest update – 1745

Times of Malta says that an animal rescue charity has highlighted the horrifying state of some of the 45 dogs rescued from a dog breeder in Birżebbuġa last week.

MaltaToday says that abortion should be “immediately” discussed in parliament, Nationalist Party MP Stephen Spiteri said as he unveiled his party’s proposals to make contraception free for everyone.

Newsbook says that the police has urged the public to come forward with any information they may have on Ricardo Ortega Espana, who is wanted in connection to an investigation into drug trafficking and the Msida shooting, which took place earlier this month.

TVM says that figures released by the European Union’s Statistics Agency Eurostat show that during the first six months of the year, Malta had the third lowest prices of electricity among all member states of the European Union, based on the index known as Purchasing Power Standards.

Updated 1300 Mid-Day Briefing

Covid-19 Update: 17 new COVID cases were reported by health authorities who on Thursday said a further 14 people recovered. 17 people are hospitalised, 4 of whom are in the ITU.

Most young people want to live elsewhere:  Almost 60% of young people in Malta would rather live in another European country, according to a survey released on Thursday. The authors of the EY Generate Youth Survey said the finding was a “cause for concern”. Over 750 Generation-Z (aged 16 to 24) and millennials (25 to 39) in Malta took part in the survey between August 15 and September 15. When asked which part of the world they would like to live and work in, 60% of Gen-Z and 59% of millennials, stated in another European country. Only 28% of Gen-Z and 27% of millenials said Malta, a drop of a few percentage points on last year. There was also a 12% increase in millennials who now also dream of moving abroad.

Malta recorded third-highest deficit in EU last year:  Malta registered the third-highest deficit in the European Union last year, Eurostat data shows.  Measured as a percentage of GDP, Malta’s deficit in 2020 stood at 9.7%, topped only by Spain at 11% and Greece 10.1%.  In monetary terms, Malta’s deficit clocked in at €1.2 billion. The increased spending saw government debt shoot up to €6.9 billion last year, up from €5.7 billion in 2019. Government deficits and debts increased markedly across the EU, as countries increased spending to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Banks turned blind eye at transfers of millions of euro, money-laundering case shows

As money-laundering charges to associates to Darren Debono continued to be presented in court, a police inspector noted how the banks were allowing millions of euro flowing between offshore and local companies. This information was given during testimony as proceedings kicked off against Pier-Paul Debono, Darren’s brother, aged 42.

Pier-Paul Debono is pleading not guilty to charges of money laundering between 2014 and 2016 when he temporarily held the post of director in his brother’s company, World Water Fisheries Ltd. Prosecuting Inspector James Turner testified that although receipts for payment were issued by a company called Timodia, it was discovered that one of Darren Debono’s companies was actually the recipient of those payments. Offshore monies were being sent via a number of companies into World Water Fisheries, said the inspector. “No explanation was asked for by local banks,” he added. (Maltatoday/Times).

Labour leaves door open to election

The Labour Party kept hinting at an election on Wednesday, with its spokespersons refering to “a choice” between Robert Abela and Bernard Grech.
In a press conference at Labour headquarters, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri said that it was not true that Malta was no longer attractive for business, citing two companies, one in iGaming and another in currency printing that announced they will invest or enhance their investment in Malta.
“We believe that everything circles around credibility, on who people will choose to lead the country,” Camilleri said.
PL President Ramona Attard recalled that under a PN administration, people used to be wary of the budget for the four years leading up to the general election. To the contrary, under a Labour government, people are expecting handouts and not taxes, she added.

Permit for Malta-Sicily gas pipeline issued

A 159-kilometre pipeline to transport natural gas and, eventually, hydrogen, between Malta and Gela, in Sicily has been given the green light by the Planning Authority, The Times of Malta reports. THe permits includes an element of land reclamation to build a terminal station at the Delimara power station, a micro-tunnel route running through the Delimara peninsula and the laying of an offshore pipeline between Delimara and Gela, Sicily.
The paper says that it was unanimously approved by the PA board after receiving a thumbs up from the PA’s Development Management Directorate, which noted that the project is in line with the objectives of Malta’s 2030 national energy and climate plan and will contribute towards the EU’s climate and energy goals.

Covid-19 Update: 20 new COVID cases were reported by health authorities while 30 recovered, leaving the active case tally at 262. 14 people are hospitalised, three of whom are in the ITU.

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