Daphne Caruana Galizia killed by car bomb
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
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
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
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
"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.
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
"The number of convictions and confiscations related to
money laundering in Malta seems extremely low," it said.