Six months ago, Daphne Caruana Galizia died in Malta, at the age of 53, in a car bomb attack. The journalist had uncovered a network of corruption involving senior officials close to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
Several media gathered by the collective Forbidden Stories, have resumed the journalist’s work and published their research. Their investigations reveal the dubious financial practices on the Mediterranean island and the links that allegedly connect the entourage of the Maltese Prime Minister to the assassins of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The investigation into the murder of the anti-corruption journalist and blogger is still ongoing. Three men, indicted on December 5 and suspected of making the bomb that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
“There is at the moment a double impunity in Malta, concerning the murder of my mother and all the corruption she was investigating,” the journalist’s son Matthew Caruana told AFP during a tribute to his mother in London on the anniversary of her death.
Another revelation concerns the sale of Maltese passports to wealthy investors in order to obtain de facto European citizenship, thereby allowing people targeted by sanctions to get around them and benefit from a very favourable tax system.
For about 1.2 million euros, hundreds of people from Russia, the Middle East and Asia have benefited from this system.
Quoted by Le Monde, an official of the Maltese agency Immigrant Invest details the benefits of such a system for the purchasers: “With a passport of the European Union, you can escape the sanctions of the United States against your country, avoid the sanctions lists, and continue your business, it’s easier for bank accounts. ”
The chief of staff of the Maltese Prime Minister is now accused of receiving bribes from Russians in exchange for passports. An investigation is underway.
Finally, the investigation by the Forbidden Stories collective revealed that a Maltese bank by the name of Pilatus has been used to carry out suspicious transactions. The bank was used by two of Azerbaijan’s most powerful families, that of dictator Ilham Aliyev and one of his ministers, Kamaladdin Heydarov, to invest their money across Europe via front companies.
The founder of Pilatus Bank, the Iranian Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, has been arrested in the United States and faces 125 years in prison.
In the wake of the bank’s difficulties it is being reported in the Maltese press that it is in the process of being wound down. The news was communicated on Ali Sadr’s behalf by his lawyers in court papers filed in the federal court of New York where Sadr holder is fighting for bail pending his trial.