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Robert Abela Won’t Blame Joseph Muscat For Grey-Listing But Admits Panama Papers ‘Didn’t Help’

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Prime Minister Robert Abela opted against blaming his predecessor Joseph Muscat for Malta’s grey-listing by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) today, although he admitted the Panama Papers didn’t help the nation’s cause.

“The Panama Papers didn’t help things, just as events before 2013 didn’t help,” Abela told journalists at a press conference today, without stating “What I can say is that we showed we mean business on good governance since January 2020. We’re not a perfect government but I believe that seriousness and honesty must be the basis for the way forward.”

“Rather than pointing fingers of blame, let’s admit that mistakes took place in the past and say ‘never again’. We must sound that message loudly both locally and overseas.”

He also dismissed calls for the resignation of Central Bank Governor Edward Scicluna, despite him serving as Finance Minister under Muscat, when Minister Konrad Mizzi and OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri were revealed to own offshore companies.

And he dodged a question by Lovin Malta on whether he expects the FATF to trust the government when one of his ministers, Carmelo Abela, has been implicated in a bank heist by men convicted of and charged with the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Noting that Malta’s anti-money laundering regime recently passed the technical Moneyval test, the Prime Minister said the next step involves implementing further reforms and ensuring the reforms are working on the ground.  

“The effectiveness of our reforms was certainly felt, and indeed some people within the private sector warned we implemented too many changes in a short period of time. However, we need to look at a culture change and understand that wrong practices which were accepted as the norm for years cannot remain in place anymore.”

“These changes were going to have to happen one day, and we had the courage to implement them, pushed by the initial Moneyval report. We must embark on these reforms to set an example of how things should be done.”

Do you agree with Robert Abela’s assessment? 

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Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society brought about by technological advances. He’s passionate about justice, human rights and cutting-edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or reach out to him at [email protected]

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