Undermining the rule of law

The “rule of law” is a basic democratic principle codified in the laws of democratic countries.

We are all servants of the law in order to be free and in a democracy, the law should apply to one and all without exception. A weak “rule of law” thus results in less and less democracy until one is left with only a free-standing façade.

The law is there to be observed: it should be a constraint on the behaviour of individuals as well as on that of institutions. All individuals ought to be subject to the same laws, whereas institutions are there to protect us all, not just from ourselves but also from all possible attempted abuse of authority by the institutions themselves.

It is within this context that the report of the ad hoc delegation of the Committee of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament has to be considered. The report is an illustration of how others see the state of our democracy, even though at points it may be inaccurate.

The delegation’s brief was to investigate “alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of Union law in relation to money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion”.

The observations and conclusions of the delegation in its 36-page report are certainly not edifying. The common thread running through the different pages of the report is that in Malta there are more masters of the law than servants; this is how others see us.

In my opinion they are not far off the mark. The report repeatedly emphasises the point that the law should be observed in both letter and spirit.

The institutions in Malta are very weak. I would add that they are weak by design, in other words they are designed specifically to genuflect when confronted by crude political power. This is reflected both in the type of appointees as well as in the actual set-up of the institutions which are supposedly there to protect us.

The above-mentioned report observes, for example, that none of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) reports on Maltese politically exposed persons (PEPs) were investigated by the Police, notwithstanding the fact that the said reports had been forwarded to them “for any action the Police may consider appropriate”.

Is it too much to expect that the police do their duty in at least investigating? The fact that no such investigation was carried out drives home the clear unequivocal message that for the police, PEPs are not subject to the law like any other person. The EU Parliament report is very clear as to why such investigations are essential. In fact it is stated that: “Persons perceived to be implicated in serious acts of corruption and money- laundering, as a result of Panama Papers revelations and FIAU reports, should not be kept in public office and must be swiftly and formally investigated and brought to justice. Keeping them in office affects the credibility of the Government, fuels the perception of impunity and may result in further damage to State interests by enabling the continuation of criminal activity.”

The question to be asked is: why is this possible? Why do Maltese authorities tend to bend the rules or close an eye here and there?

You may find an indication as to why this is so in two small incidents occurring in Malta this year. These illustrate the forma mentis of the Maltese “authorities”.

The first example is associated with the fireworks factory at Iż-Żebbiegħ. After 30 years in Court the rural community of iż-Żebbiegħ won a civil case as a result of which a permit for a fireworks factory was declared null and void by the Court of Appeal. The government reacted by rushing through Parliament amendments to the Explosives Ordinance. These amendments with approved by Parliament with the full support of the Opposition. As a result, notwithstanding the decision of the Court of Appeal, a permit for the fireworks factory can still be issued.

The second example is still “work in progress”. The Court of Appeal has, in the application of rent legislation, decided that the Antoine de Paule Band Club in Paola was in breach of its lease agreement. As a result the Court of Appeal ordered the eviction of the band club from the premises they leased within four months.

The government reacted by publishing proposed amendments to the Civil Code, as a result of which the eviction ordered by the Court of Appeal will be blocked.

These are two examples of the government reacting to decisions of our Courts of Law by moving the goalposts – with the direct involvement of the Opposition. The public reactions to these two cases have been minimal. Maltese public opinion has become immune to such “cheating” and bending of the rules because this method of operation has become an integral part of the way in which our institutions function. The Opposition is an active collaborator in this exercise that undermines the rule of law in Malta.

Is it therefore reasonable to be surprised if this “cheating” and bending of the rules is applied not just in minor matters but in very serious ones too? Moving the goalposts whenever it is politically expedient is, unfortunately, part of the way in which this country has operated to date. It is certainly anything but democratic and most obviously anything but respectful towards the rule of law.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 20 May 2018

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Il-proġett Daphne: istituzzjonijiet dgħajfa

Is-sitwazzjoni hi waħda gravi.

Il-qtil ta’ ġurnalista minnu innifsu hu tebgħa fuq il-pajjiż kollu.

Il-ħasil tal-flus, probabbilment ġejjin mill-korruzzjoni ta’ kobor li qatt ma rajna bħala, dejjem iktar jidher bħala l-possibli motiv f’dan kollu.

Il-kollass tal-istituzzjonijiet jgħaqqad kollox.

Il-ġurnalisti barranin investigaw huma ukoll. Għamlu ir-riflessjonijiet tagħhom fuq dak li semgħu, fuq dak li raw u fuq it-tweġibiet li ngħataw għall-mistoqsijiet tagħhom.

Għaliex, qed jistaqsu, ma ġie investigat l-ebda politiku Malti? Għaliex dawk li kitbet fuqhom DCG, l-ebda wieħed minnhom ma kien tal-inqas mistieden jieħu kafè mal-Kummissarju biex jgħin ftit lill-Pulizija fl-investigazzjoni tagħhom?

Qed jingħad li dawk li eventwalment ġew akkużati bil-qtil kienu avżati li l-Pulizija kienu ser jagħmlu raid fit-tinda tal-patata. Min qalilhom?

Dawn huma kollha affarijiet li jixħtu dellijiet kbar fuq il-proċess tal-ġustizzja fil-pajjiż.

L-istituzzjonijiet huma dgħajfa ħafna u m’għandna l-ebda kenn fihom.

It-tieġ ta’ Venezja u l-ħasil tal-flus

 

Diversi qed jistaqsu għalfejn dan l-għaġeb kollu dwar min attenda għat-tieġ li sar Venezja fejn iżżewweġ dak li sa ftit ġranet ilu kien iċ-Chairman u s-sid tal-bank Pilatus, Ali Sadr Hasheminejad.

Kull wieħed minna għandu l-obbligu li joqgħod attent biex dak li jagħmel fil-ħajja privata tiegħu jew tagħha ma jirriflettix ħażin fuq il-ħidma pubblika tiegħu jew tagħha. Biex inkun ċar, meta ngħid il-ħidma pubblika mhux qed nillimita ruħi għall-politiċi.

Sfortunatament għal bosta sar qiesu xejn m’hu xejn.

L-arrest fl-Istati Uniti tal-Amerika ta’ Ali Sadr Hasheminejad sar il-ġimgħa l-oħra. Kien arrest dwar ksur tal-liġijiet Amerikani fuq is-sanzjonijiet kontra l-Iran.

Imma kien ix-xahar l-ieħor li l-European Banking Authority fetħet inkjesta preliminari dwar is-sorveljanza li l-MFSA għamlet fuq il-bank Pilatus u b’mod partikolari dwar id-due diligence meħtiega biex ikun stabilit is-sors tat-€8 miljuni kapital inizzjali biex fetaħ il-bank.

L-issue tal-ħasil tal-flus ilha tissemma xhur sħaħ fil-konfront tal-bank Pilatus.

Il-mistoqsija allura li teħtieġ tweġiba hi dwar jekk kienx hemm preżenti għal dan it-tieġ f’Venezja persuni li x-xogħol tagħhom ta’ kuljum jikkonċerna s-sorveljanza kontra l-ħasil tal-flus.

Biex inkun l-iktar ċar possibli ħa nikkwota ir-rapport ta’ Lovin Malta li ġie ippubblikat il-bieraħ il-Ħadd 25 ta’ Marzu 2018. Jgħid hekk :
“Also present at Ali Sadr’s wedding was Juanita Bencini, a consultant at KPMG – the auditors of Pilatus Bank. Bencini is President of the Institute of the Financial Services Practitioners and chairs the IFSP’s Prevention of Money Laundering And Funding Of Terrorism committee. She is also board member of the government’s finance promotional arm FinanceMalta and chairs the anti-money laundering committee of the Malta Institute of Accountants.

She was accompanied to the wedding by her husband Austin Bencini, who sits on the board of directors of Allied Newspapers – which owns The Times of Malta.”

Ikun interessanti ħafna jekk inkunu nafu x’taħseb l-MFSA dwar dan. U kif qegħdin fiha l-korpi professjonali tal-accountants u l-awdituri jistgħu jilluminawna ftit ukoll!

L-etika professjonali fejn hi?

 

Keith il-Kasco mhux ġemmiegħ tas-santi!

 

 

Ħadd qatt ma kellu l-illużjoni li Keith Schembri l-Kasco u Konrad Mizzi, l-Ministru bla portafoll, kienu qed jagħmlu użu mill-kumpaniji tagħhom Hearnville Inc. u  Tillgate Inc. fil-Panama biex iġemmgħu  is-santi jew id-domni.

Il-loġika u s-sens komun dejjem wasslu għal konklużjoni waħda: ħasil ta flus. Imma sissa provi qatt ma kien hemm.

Kif dejjem għidna, d-dnub ma jorqodx u jekk hemm provi xi ħin jew ieħor dawn hemm ċans tajjeb li jitfaċċaw.

Ikun ferm aħjar, jekk hemm il-provi, li dawn jagħmlu apoloġija pubblika u jmorru jistaħbew fejn ma jarahom ħadd. Illum qabel għada. Jistgħu jekk iridu jieħu magħhom ukoll lil sid l-Egrant Inc.,  it-tielet kumpanija.

Wara sena sħiħa ta ċaħdiet ilkoll nittamaw li ma ndumux ma nkunu nafu l-fatti vera.

Qed tinħoloq bejta għall-kriminalità organizzata

Mafia linked-companies

 

 

Hu ta’ serjetà kbira li l-Awtorità dwar il-Lotteriji u Logħob ieħor (Lotteries and Gaming Authority) tirtira liċenzja.

Matul dawn il-ġranet irtirat diversi liċenzji u dan wara rapport ta’ investigazzjoni minn awtoritajiet Taljani li indikaw illi xi kumpaniji tal-iGaming f’Malta kienu qed iservu għall-ħasil tal-flus ġejjin mid-droga negozjata mill-kriminalità organizzata Taljana.

Ġew arrestati numru ta’ persuni ta’ nazzjonalità Taljana, liema persuni kienu identifikati mill-awtoritajiet Taljani.

Din hi biss parti mill-problema.

Dawn il-kumpaniji tal-iGaming, (logħob tal-azzard online) biex ġew irreġistrati f’Malta kienu eżaminati b’reqqa kbira, qalulna. Anzi “very stringent procedures“. Mhux biss il-kumpaniji, iżda ukoll kull min għandu jew kellu x’jaqsam magħhom. Dan l-eżami bir-reqqa, li jissejjaħ due diligence (kliem tqil biex jippruvaw ifhemuna s-serjetà kbira ħafna li hemm assoċjata ma dawn l-affarijiet) sar kemm mill-Awtorità dwar il-Lotteriji u Logħob ieħor (Lotteries and Gaming Authority) kif ukoll mid-ditti professjonali li jagħtu s-servizzi meħtieġa lil min jaħdem f’dan il-qasam.

Wieħed minn dawn il-professjonisti, f’mument ta’ serjetà kbira, fisser lill media fiex kienet tikkonsisti l-investigazzjoni ta’ għamlet waħda minn dawn id-ditti professjonali. Qalilna li din id-ditta : “carried out its own due diligence process to ascertain that the individuals concerned were of good standing. This was done by requesting certified copies of the ultimate shareholders’ passports, proof of residential address, as well as copies of their police conduct records.”

Tassew impressjonanti, xi profondità ta’ investigazzjoni. Mhux diffiċli biex tifhem li din l-investigazzjoni kif deskritta hi waħda superfiċjali għall-aħħar. Din hi kollezzjoni ta’ dokumenti u bl-ebda mod ma tista’ titqies investigazzjoni jew due diligence.

Fuq il-website tal-Awtorità dwar il-Lotteriji u Logħob ieħor issibu l-ismijiet tal-kumpaniji tal-iGaming li f’dawn il-ġranet kellhom il-liċenzja tagħhom irtirata: Fenplay Limited, Soft Bet Limited, Soft Casino Limited, Uniq Group Limited, Betsolutions4U Limited u Alibaba Casino Limited.

Tul is-snin li għaddew il-Gvernijiet differenti qalulna li l-kumpaniji tal-iGaming [jiġifieri kumpaniji bħal dawn li kellhom il-liċenzja irtirata] kienu qed jiġġeneraw ix-xogħol u kien ġustifikat (qalulna) li niġbduhom lejn Malta billi nagħtuhom rati favorevoli ħafna ta’ taxxa. Fil-fatt, taxxi, jħallsu ftit li xejn.

Qiegħed jidher ċar, u dan hu biss dak li nafu s’issa, illi Malta jidher li saret attrazzjoni għall-ħasil tal-flus mill-kriminalità organizzata. Sfortunatament l-“investigazzjonijiet profondi” li mingħalihom qed jagħmlu l-awtoritajiet Maltin (kif ukoll uħud mill-uffiċini professjonali f’Malta) ma kienux kapaċi jindunaw li mix-xibka tal-kontrolli kollha soffistikati li kellhom, għadda dan il-laqqx.

Ovvjament hemm kumpaniji li ma ħolqu l-ebda problemi. Imma sfortunatament huma l-kumpaniji li rtirawlhom il-liċenzja f’dawn il-ġranet li qed jagħtuna isem ħażin. Minn dan jista’ jbati l-pajjiż kollu. Għax qed nitilfu l-kredibilità u bil-mod qed nieħdu l-fama ta’ bejta għall-kriminalità organizzata.

Mhux biss l-imħallfin ……………..

moneylaundering

L-ewwel aħbar interessanti ippubblikata din is-sena hi ta’ investigazzjoni fl-Italja dwar ħasil ta’ flus. Ir-rapporti ġew ippubblikati fil-media tal-GWU, fl-Orizzont u f’iNews u jirrigwardaw żewg persuni afdati sewwa mill-Gvern ta’ Lawrence Gonzi. Żewġ persuni li kienu għodda li intużaw fid-diversi postijiet fejn inħatru matul dawn l-aħħar snin.

Il-posizzjoni li għadhom qed jokkupaw dawn iż-żewġ persuni fil-Malta Enterprise u Transport Malta jirrikjedu azzjoni immedjata min-naħa tal-Gvern.

Mhux biss l-imħallfin jixħtu d-dellijiet meta jkunu taħt investigazzjoni!