The Laundry Man by Kenneth Rijock ( Penguin/Random House UK)

Thursday, September 16, 2021

WILL MUSCATS' BIBLICAL ENDING ALSO BEFALL MALTA ?


Valletta as modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah by COSIMO

While we have a pretty good idea of the destiny of Joseph and Michelle Muscat, who simply cannot outrun their dark past, the future of the Republic of Malta is still largely unwritten. All the experts opine that it will take Malta's leaders a minimum of eighteen months* to be removed from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), given what other jurisdictions had to endure. The organization's busy schedule makes it nearly impossible to clean up one's act AND be reviewed AND pass, in a shorter time if you are coming out of true offshore financial centre status.

Also, the reforms ( I don't mean cosmetic changes in the law) which must be initiated will include arresting individuals presently holding ministerial posts, as well as prior very senior government officials, which so far is a definite no. It just won't happen under a Labour Government, unless some major housecleaning, and policy changes, are instituted, and the entire culture is cleansed of corruption, vices and nepotism.

Remember that tax evaders and money launderers have a very short attention span; they do not like to be told to wait for anything. They also do not like to be exposed to possible law enforcement attention, which Malta's new Greylisting, and UK high-risk designations have increased exponentially. They will simply go elsewhere; many already have. Others will move on to Cyprus or outside the EU entirely.

Will Malta enter a deep decline, and become a picturesque backwater of the European Union, suitable only for sunbathing tourists and souvenir hunters ? We cannot say, but unless there is a sea change at the next election, now rumoured for November, things may get very dark indeed in Valletta.

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* Forget the fact that Iceland was able to secure favorable outcome in a shorter period of time. The country was never truly an offshore financial centre (tax haven) to the extent the others were, and which Malta, objectively speaking, still is.

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