The October MONEYVAL deadline is fast approaching, and Malta has not enacted any significant legal reforms, nor have any new money laundering cases been filed, nor have any dodgy shell companies been shut down. In short, the necessary actions needed to avoid the regulator's "Grey List" have not occurred. What will Malta's leaders do now ? They cannot ask for another six-month extension, as is rumored; they already received a 3-month delay, due to COVID-19.
If Malta makes the Grey List, foreign lawyers, financial advisors and wealthy clients may choose a less "controversial" offshore financial center/tax haven to do their business, meaning that revenue from such business could seriously decline. Malta's leaders do not want that to happen.
The solution: bring money laundering charges against the CEO and owner of money laundering Pilatus Bank, Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, and all other former directors of the bank. Such an action will demonstrate the willingness of the country's leaders to hold money launderers to account, and may be sufficient to ward off MONEYVAL, so long as there is an actual trial of the offenders, and justice is served.
Such an action would probably have the support of Malta's business community, for it fears pushback from entry into the Grey List, except those government officials who fast-tracked the Pilatus banking license application, for they may have concerns about being named by Ali Sadr at his trial in Malta.
This may be a true Hobson's choice, meaning that to indict, or not to indict, will have serious ramifications for a number of Malta's present or former leaders, but if real reform is to take place in 2020, charging Pilatus Bank directors is the obvious way to start.
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