The Malta Independent 25 September 2022, Sunday
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Edward Scicluna must shoulder responsibility for his decisions – NGO

Thursday, 23 January 2020, 11:57 Last update: about 4 years ago

Edward Scicluna spent 15 months evading questions by activists concerning his decision to appoint Silvio Valletta as a member of the Board of Governors of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU). When finally, yesterday evening he was obliged to react to the criticisms levelled against him in this regard, Scicluna made a desperate attempt to divert public attention. NGO Repubblika said in a statement.

Article 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act provides that the Minister responsible for Finance is to appoint four members to the Board of Governors, and he is to select one of these from a list of at least three persons nominated by the Police Commissioner.

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A few months after the 2013 elections the police official who was serving on the Board of Governors of the FIAU went on pension. In his stead, Edward Scicluna appointed Silvio Valletta, Justyne Caruana’s husband. At the time, she was a Parliamentary Secretary and was later appointed Minister.

On 6 October 2018, Repubblika said it asked Minister Scicluna and the Police Commissioner to remove Silvio Valletta from any role he may have been given at FIAU because of the conflict of interest arising from the fact that he was married to a Government Minister. The NGO had also informed them that this conflict of interest “had now been transformed into a veritable one from the moment that serious allegations had been made against members of the Government of Malta and senior officials in Government administration. The responsibility to investigate these allegations fell squarely on the FIAU, and it is public knowledge that the FIAU actually carried out some form of investigation with regard to some of these persons.”

Yesterday, in the House of Representatives, Scicluna defended his choice to select Silvio Valletta to serve on the FIAU’s Board of Governors, stating that Valletta had been nominated by the Police Corps and not by him, and that in 2014 nobody could anticipate the way Silvio Valletta would act in 2017, when he was caught out as being on very familiar terms with the alleged mastermind behind the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Repubblika said.

The arguments put forth by Minister Scicluna to defend himself are very weak, and are made with the obvious intention of misinforming the public. Edward Scicluna was the person who took the decision to appoint Silvio Valletta, consequently, it is Edward Scicluna who has to shoulder the responsibility for this decision.

It is not acceptable that a Minister who weakened the FIAU by placing and maintaining in one the country’s highest institutions a person who clearly had a serious conflict of interest, should continue to serve in our country’s government cabinet. We believe that one of the reasons why Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder was made possible with such ease was due to the fact that the FIAU and other vital institutions of our country were not allowed to function properly.

Besides this, Repubblika would like the Minister to:

1) publish a full copy of the document written by the Police Commissioner presenting a list of at least three nominees, including Silvio Valletta, from which the Minister was to select one;

2) declare the reasons why he preferred Silvio Valletta to the other candidates nominated by the Police Commissioner;

3) state whether any persons or persons (apart from the Police Commissioner) communicated with him regarding the appointment of Silvio Valletta to the FIAU Board, before he himself formally appointed him. If yes, then Minister Scicluna is to specify who were the persons and what was communicated between them;

4) declare why he did not pay any attention to the civil society activists’ request, dated 6 October 2018, to remove Silvio Valletta from his role at the FIAU, because of conflict of interest.

At one point or another, this information is going to become public. In the name of decency and transparency, we ask Edward Scicluna to be honest and transparent with the Maltese people, and therefore meet our request, the NGO said.

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