The Malta Independent 22 September 2018, Saturday

Watch: EBA’s investigation into FIAU could lead to infringement procedures - EU Commissioner

Kevin Schembri Orland Thursday, 14 June 2018, 18:33 Last update: about 4 months ago

The European Banking Authority's (EBA) investigation into the FIAU's handling of Pilatus Bank could potentially lead to the initiation of  infringement procedures, should deficiencies be found.

The EBA had said, early June, that the FIAU may have failed to ensure Pilatus bank put in place ant-money laundering procedures, and that sanctions were never imposed on the bank.

The Malta Independent asked The European Commissioner responsible for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová what the potential next steps could be, should systematic deficiencies be found in the FIAU.

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"Any time we see systemic problems with the implementation of EU law we have the possibility of launching infringement procedures, and this is what we are doing (with regards to the implementation of the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive as her spokesperson clarified later). We are running infringement procedure and we are assessing the system on a continuous basis. At the same time we asked the EBA to dig further into this particular case as we need to know what happened there, and then to look into it in a wider context."

She also urged the Maltese authorities to cooperate with the EBA, and follow its recommendations.

The European Commissioner is in Malta holding several meetings with government ministers, national entities and stakeholders to discuss the various dossiers which fall within her portfolio. She is in Malta also looking into concerns related to the rule of law as well as the ongoing investigation into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

While she has more meetings tomorrow, she has already met with the Chief Justice, Ministers Helena Dalli and Chris Cardona, the Chamber of Advocates, representatives of the FIAU and others.

On the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, she stressed the importance of uncovering who the person behind the murder is. "We need to know the full truth.  The mastermind of the murder cannot go unpunished.  There is no place in the EU for the murder of journalists. This is not only a Maltese issue, as freedom of the press is at stake, and the work of journalists is crucial for democracies."

She stressed the need to create a safe environment for journalists. "If journalists become afraid of writing certain stories, then we will all be in trouble."

She spoke of the fight against money laundering and about gaps in the implementation of the 4th Anti-Money laundering directive in Malta.

She said that gaps in regulation in one state have an impact on others. "Money laundering in one EU state supports crime in another." She said that she is confident the authorities will address the issues.

She said that the EU is also following the IIP programme. "Becoming a maltese citizen means becoming an EU citizen, including freedom of movement.  In 2014 we required the Maltese authority to only give to citizenship to people who have a link to the country and who reside here for one year. I want to be assured that this is inspected. We have teams working on a report on schemes granting citizenship for investors across the EU, and are looking into legislation practices in all member states concerned, including Malta, the report is to be published by the end of year.

She spoke positively about Malta's agreement to join to European Public Prosecutors Office.

As for the 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive, she mentioned that it will include enhanced control systems covering bitcoin and virtual currencies, and also the registration of beneficial owners.


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