Judgment day is fast approaching for Malta’s FIAU!

Maltese FIAU
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Malta’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) has been sued by more than a dozen companies and professionals. The authority is accused of having breached Malta’s Constitution and the European Convention for Human Rights, given that it acts as judge, jury, and prosecutor. The same entity that decides whom and when to investigate or not carries out the investigation and then decides on the punishment to be given has been trying to defend itself at Malta’s courts.

The FIAU retained its preferred lawyers by direct order and found ways to prolong the process as much as possible but will now start facing judgments of the long list of cases.

The FIAU did not dare to issue high fines to prominent players such as HSBC Bank Malta, which was only fined a mere Eur 83,000. It did not fine Calamatta Cuschieri Investments Services despite shocking revelations in courts of the company handing huge amounts of cash to convicted criminals. However, it acted very strong with the weak, such as notaries and small companies. The FIAU also failed to fine lawyer Pio Valletta, the flamboyant lawyer who resides in a luxurious Mellieha villa and drives around in a Bentley.

Court decisions seem to indicate that there is no way out for FIAU. Two important judgments, out of some 15 pending cases, are expected on 30th March 2023 and 24th May 2023. Should the FIAU be found guilty of breaching Malta’s Constitution and the European Convention of Human Rights, the FIAU officials will lose most of their current powers. These officials do not disclose their conflicts of interest and meet behind closed doors and on unannounced dates.

Other court decisions clearly stated that the FIAU did act incorrectly when fining small companies vast amounts of fines.

The FIAU includes Alfred Zammit, well-known in Malta for signing a document exonerating Pilatus Bank of any wrongdoing. Other officials include Kristina Arbociute and Rudolf Muscat, who both made the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Malta’s Finance Minister Clyde Caruana had promised to overhaul the system but has so far failed to do so.

Questions sent to the FIAU’s spokesperson Catherine Zammit and its Director, Kenneth Farrugia, have remained unanswered. Moneyval and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) have been informed of the lack of response by the Maltese public authorities to questions by the media.

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