The Malta Independent 19 October 2018, Friday

The sunny side of Sven

Charles Flores Tuesday, 9 October 2018, 09:30 Last update: about 9 days ago

It must be the sun that has imbued this persistent obsession with things Maltese into the German MEP Sven Gielgold’s psyche. For a German born in sun-drenched Las Palmas in the Canaries, there can only be this pseudo-psychological elucidation. How else could one try to figure out his most recent tirade,in a UK newspaper, in which he confoundingly announced he would be embarking ona campaign for HSBC to leave Malta on the fast-fading pretext of “a lack of action” againstmoney laundering?

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Not only has the EU Commissioner for Justice, the now confirmed double-faced Vera Jourova, been regularly updated with the measures that have been taken in Malta over the past few years to combat this global predicament,but the Island, its government and institutions have continued to show an obvious willingnessto further bolsterthe anti-laundering system.They have tightened up their act, though it should be said that, contrary to other member states being investigated, Malta has not broken any EU laws on the issue.

More telling for Gielgoldwas the fact that there was an overwhelming negative reaction to his comments from across the whole Maltese political spectrum, Government and Opposition, as well as Malta’s own Green Party, Alternattiva Demokratika, whose chairperson quickly, and rightly, washed his hands of the intended dirt attached to the fellow Green German MEP’s usual melodrama.

Ironically, Gielgold’s latest theatrics for The Telegraph, as part of hisquixoticcrusade so inexplicably hostile to the EU’s smallest member state, took place against the background of unabashed German opposition to a European Commission proposal for greater European Banking Authority scrutiny of money laundering allegations! Only France, Denmark, Spain (which of course includes the Canaries) and, you’ve guessed it, Malta, agreed the proposal could come into immediate effect. The rest, including Gielgold’s Germany, have preferred to drag their feet by asking for more analysis of the proposal.

Of course no one expectsthat Gielgold will now be about to launch a campaign for HSBC to leave Germany; or is that an easy tactic to use only against the small fry of Europe? There’s the head office at Dusseldorf and there are branches in Baden-Baden, Berlin, Cologne, Dortmund, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover, Mannheim, Munich, Nuremberg and Stuttgart. They all must have been shaken to their foundations after this goose-stepdisplay of reluctance on the part of Europe’s economic giant to fight money laundering.

One also cannot help but notice how the Las Palmas-born German persists in ignoring the mammoth scandals involving the Danske, which holds a third of all Danish people’s savings, the Dutch Ing bank and several Latvia and Estonia cases. It must be said that while the Socialists and Democrats Group have chosen to invite the Danske whistleblower to appear at the European Parliament, there was absolutely no sign of Sven Gielgold featuring in the call for such an important move.

While the sniper in Gielgold concentrates on an ever-cooperative Malta, the German MEPcontinues to purposely overlook the huge money-laundering scandal involving Deutsche Bank, and the fact that, despite so many pledges to act, London is still declared a haven for Russian money. Healso continues to remain undisturbed by the Danish bank scandal, with its Estonian branch having handled €200 billion of hot money, calculated to be nine times the GDP of Estonia, and even larger than the Portuguese GDP and the whole EU budget! 

There has to be a reason for his implausible attitude;or is it the Canarian dash in the blood that makes him opt solely for the sunny side of the money world?

 

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Sorry seems to be the hardest word

The word “sorry” that Bernie Taupin put so effectively into his lyrics for Elton John’s 1976 great hit,“Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word”, is also very hard to come by in Maltese politics. And funnily enough, when it comes, it is always seems to be from only one side of the political fence.

There have been instances when leading Labour exponents, including the present Prime Minister, publicly expressed regret for the excesses of the past, such as the violence and the meddling in state broadcasting during the Eighties, in which they were not even involved.But have you ever heard, for example, a whimper of remorse from the former Nationalist Prime Minister who was revealed in Court to have liedlive on television on the very eve of a general election? Or when he and ex-colleagues of his were caught with an arms cache at party headquarters? Or for the ethnic cleansing, that occurred at parastatal entities like TeleMalta, PBS, EneMalta, the dockyard and so on? Or for properly celebrating only one of two controversial national holidays, a divisive policy that was dropped during the Alfred Sant years (1996-98), and then happily discarded again immediately after the 2013 change of government?

It should also be acknowledged that during his tenure as leader of the Maltese Church, Archbishop Pawlu Cremona had no qualms about apologising for the Church’s misdeeds of the Sixties when mortal sin was used as a powerful political weapon, but those who exploited it to the maximum, of course never did.

Now that we have come to know how costly the Egrant magisterial inquiry has been – to the tune of €1.2 million – there is again a downright refusal to say sorry on the part of those who milked the allegations that have now been proved to have been lies that formed part of a trumped-up story.

One would have thought the new Leader of the Opposition would not hesitate atresorting to his “new way” of doing things to at least say sorry for, in particular, the vicious campaign that his predecessor and his media stooges had staged based on those allegations, most of them intentionally aimed at the Prime Minister and his family. But no, his representative during aTV debate the other day said that his new leader, with his new way, had nothing to apologise for.

How sad for people who still genuinely believe in the need for more sensible, clearer ways of doing politics on this blob of land.

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