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Daphne Caruana Galizia killed by car bomb

11/11/2017 6:00
        European Union lawmakers have
        raised concerns over money laundering in Malta and the
        independence of its police and judiciary in a draft resolution,
        stepping up pressure on the island after the assassination of an
        investigative journalist.
        
        Daphne Caruana Galizia, who had denounced high-profile
        corruption and accused Prime Minister Joseph Muscat of
        wrongdoing, was killed on Oct. 16 by a bomb that tore through
        her car.
        
        An investigation is under way and Muscat has promised that
        everything will be done to find the killers.
        
        Next week the EU parliament will vote on a resolution on the
        rule of law in Malta.
        
        In a draft text, seen by Reuters, the parliament said it
        "regrets that developments in Malta in recent years have led to
        serious concerns about the rule of law, democracy and
        fundamental rights including freedom of the media and the
        independence of the police and judiciary".
        
        It said that "the independence of law enforcement and the
        judiciary in Malta may be compromised by the fact that the
        government is empowered to appoint the Police Commissioner, the
        head of the FIAU (anti-money laundering agency) and the
        attorney-general".
        
        The resolution called on the European Commission to oversee
        more closely respect for the rule of law in Malta and regretted
        the EU executive's decision not to publish its anti-corruption
        report this year.
        
        At a news conference on Friday, the largest group in the
        parliament, the conservative European People's Party (EPP),
        called on the EU commission to "urgently" step up its monitoring
        of Malta.
        
        "We think there are serious questions regarding the freedom
        of media and the lack of law enforcement in Malta," said Daniel
        Koster, an EPP spokesman.
        
        He said the EPP had doubts about what the commission was
        doing to address this situation.
        
        
        
        INSTITUTIONS "POLITICISED"
        
        The calls from the conservatives were echoed by the liberal,
        leftist and green groupings in the assembly.
        
        Reports from the Maltese anti-money laundering agency were
        leaked in June via Caruana Galizia's blog. They raised concerns
        about Pilatus Bank, a Maltese lender accused of having failed to
        report suspicious dealings as required by law.
        
        The EU lawmakers' draft resolution calls on Malta to
        investigate Pilatus Bank. The bank and the Maltese police did
        not reply to Reuters' questions on the allegations.
        
        "There appear to be no grounds to suspect a systematic
        breach," of money laundering rules in Malta, an EU Commission
        official told Reuters in reply to questions over the island's
        application of EU rules on money laundering.
        
        The draft resolution, citing findings of the parliament's
        inquiry committee on money laundering, said Maltese institutions
        in charge of enforcing rules to prevent financial crimes were
        "highly politicised".
        
        "The number of convictions and confiscations related to
        money laundering in Malta seems extremely low," it said.
        



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