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Brussels 'pressured EBA to make example of FIAU', minister charges

Edward Scicluna has clearly lost the plot - David Casa

Updated 8.55am: adds David Casa's reply

Brussels put political pressure on the European Banking Authority to “rush and act” and make an example of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna charges.

In a Talking Point on today’s the Times of Malta, Prof. Scicluna says the pressure from the European Commission led the EBA to take action in the anti-money-laundering field for the first time at the EU level.

It used the FIAU to show European financial regulators could cope with such issues, he said, adding that the European Commission itself faced specific pressure from three MEPs, “pushed” by David Casa.

The EBA said last week that the FIAU had breached the EU’s third anti-money-laundering directive in 2016 during its oversight of Pilatus Bank.

Read: MFSA set to ‘study’ banking authority recommendations on FIAU

Read: Finance Minister must resign over banking authority report into FIAU - Delia

Prof. Scicluna accused shadow finance minister Mario de Marco of “rushing out” of a 2015 meeting held to amend the country’s anti-money-laundering legislation to threaten the national regulatory authorities with a court case in defence of his professional clients Fenplay, an Italian iGaming operator whose licence was withdrawn because of money laundering.

Read Minister Scicluna's Talking Point here.

Edward Scicluna has clearly lost the plot - David Casa

In a statement on Wednesday morning, Mr Casa said the FIAU and the Malta Financial Services Authority had been Prof. Scicluna’s responsibility since 2013.

"He can only blame himself for allowing the political capture of these institutions to protect his cabinet colleagues. The suggestion that the issues arose due to some supernatural influence I possess in Brussels is testament to the Finance Minister either being in a state of severe delusion, or an unwillingness or inability to address the real issues. Either way it is clear that he is not man to clean up the mess he himself created and should resign immediately."

Mr Casa reiterated that Prof. Scicluna’s cabinet colleagues Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri had been caught red-handed, involved in massive corruption and money laundering.

"The facts at hand are simple. Two Maltese politicians wanted to get rich quick off the backs of hard working Maltese people. To do that they needed a crooked bank (Pilatus), and a crooked accountancy firm (Nexia BT). And when they were caught they needed our regulatory authorities to look the other way."

Malta's institutions were now in trouble because they had been compromised so as not to act against Prof. Scicluna’s cabinet colleagues and their accomplices.

The minister's job was first and foremost to ensure that the institutions for which he was responsible protected Maltese citizens and not corrupt politicians. "And my job is to hold him to account for his dereliction of duty.

"I will continue doing my job. Regrettably it is painfully clear he is incapable of doing his," Mr Casa said.

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