The Malta Independent 24 September 2021, Friday

‘Everyone should not have to suffer for government’s inaction on financial crimes’ – Grech

Jake Aquilina Sunday, 25 July 2021, 11:51 Last update: about 3 months ago

Since Malta was added to the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) grey list, some people might face added scrutiny by financial auditors, but everyone should not suffer for the government's inaction on financial crimes, Opposition and PN leader Bernard Grech said.

Bernard Grech was interviewed on the Nationalist party radio station NET FM, where he was discussing, among other things, his pledge that if the Nationalist party is elected to government, he will ensure that Malta would get off the FATF grey list within three months.

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"One has to understand that when there is added scrutiny by the banks and notaries, that this came about because of the Labour Government getting Malta onto the FATF greylist... under Robert Abela's government, everyone is presumed to be a criminal, and we are against this," he said.

Grech remarked that "only the PN can get the country off the greylist" as the PN is " the party that is able to call for independent investigations into individuals without looking at who they are."

Last Thursday, Malta received another blow when it comes to international trust in Malta's ability to combat money laundering, as it was placed on the UK high-risk list for money laundering and terrorist financing, weeks after the FATF's greylisting. The Opposition leader criticised the Government on this as well, saying that the country is being looked at as if all of the people were criminals, so it has to "fight to get its credibility back".

"Even Ghana is better than us. They managed to get off this list, and we replaced them. That is what Robert Abela and his government are doing to this country," Grech said.

When it comes to the pandemic, Grech also cited his disappointment at the way the government has handled the situation, especially given the rise in cases over recent weeks.

Most notably, he remarked that the tourism strategy "failed this summer". This is as the Government promised to give €300 vouchers to English language students, and as cases spiked with a number of them being unvaccinated foreign students, the government had to close down this industry to curb the spread of the virus.

"Just as what happened last summer, the tourism sector failed, as we are facing the same difficulties under the same Prime Minister," he said.

The opposition leader also spoke about recent additions to the PN's ranks, notably the former CEO of Lovin Malta Chris Peregin and former MEP candidate Peter Agius. The PN is looking "to renew itself", Grech said, but he noted that "no one is going to be sidelined" in the party's renewal process.

On another note, Grech wished the Maltese Olympians who are currently contesting in Tokyo a good tournament.

The Opposition leader's final message was that the country should show unity so that it can move forward despite certain events that have happened in recent years. "Everyone has a role and everyone can help" the country move forward to a better place, Grech remarked.


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