Members from the European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion (PANA) are today in Malta for the second of four fact-finding missions focusing on tax havens.

The trip comes against the backdrop of revelations today in the media that Keith Schembri, the chief of staff of Malta's Prime Minister, and Konrad Mizzi, currently a Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister, were in the process of setting up bank accounts with The Winterbotham Merchant Bank in the Bahamas when the Panama Papers were published.

Speaking ahead of the mission, Portuguese MEP Miguel Viegas commented:

“It’s unsurprising that the EU institutions have been trying to block the work of this Inquiry Committee. It shows that we were right: tax evasion and avoidance exist due to the 'instruments' that were put in place by the right-wing and social democrat governments in EU member states. Their purpose? To protect the rich and make them even richer.”

“Unfortunately Malta is no exception. This delegation will have the opportunity to hear from the Maltese Minister of Finance, who had declined to appear before our Inquiry Committee. We will learn more about the role of Malta in helping large companies avoid taxes while workers continue to suffer from austerity policies.”

Fabio De Masi, Vice-Chair of the PANA Committee, added:

“With a corporate tax rate of just 5 per cent and an almost 100 per cent tax refund for shareholders, Malta has one of the most lenient corporate tax regimes in the EU, which in turn facilitates the laundering of criminal money.”

“In the past, Malta has lobbied the Council against efforts for more corporate transparency and against stricter anti-money laundering rules. In a country where political elites – from conservatives to the social democrats – have featured so prominently in the Panama Papers. The Maltese government should expect tough questioning from the public on money laundering and tax dodging during the current EU Presidency,” De Masi concluded.

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