The publication of the Panama Papers opened a Pandora’s box that contains evidence of the decades-long practice of some well-connected rich and famous – that of hiding their often ill-gotten assets from the scrutiny on fiscal and other anti-financial-crime authorities. Money launderers and tax avoiders shrink from transparency more than the devil fears holy water.
A Maltese government minister and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff were among the politically exposed persons who chose opaque jurisdictions to park their money in. It is they, not their detractors, who have contributed to Malta’s image as an Eldorado for money launderers that the country is now constrained to fight.
Government apologists try to deflect the destructive impact of the lax enforcement of anti-money-laundering directives by saying bigger countries like the UK and Germany are even more permissive in the way they filter banking transactions to ensure they are not tainted with money gained illegally.