Malta under Siege Due To Panama Papers Controversy
The recent controversy of offshore companies unveiled by panama papers has taken the world by storm and many ministers and powerful people from different countries of the world have come under this controversy. Maltese government officials have also been on the list and this has lead to considerable amount of protests from the public.
714 companies in total from Malta have been listed on database of Panama Papers that was launched by the ICIJ. The list features companies that date back to decades and several of them have long been dissolved as well.
Among the major names that have been mentioned from Malta include former minister from Nationalist Party Ninu Zammit. Zammit’s name is present on the list as shareholder in an offshore company that got dissolved recently in the month of November last year. Furthermore, the president of Maltese Football Association Norman Darmanin Demajo is also listed as shareholder in 3 companies. Two of these companies became inactive back in 2010 while the third one is still active.
Nexia BT which is a local firm and is at heart of Panamanian Scandal of Malta serves to be the intermediary for fourteen companies that are listed in Panama Papers. There are some other companies as well that have served a lot more like Bald Eagle which is on top of this list by serving 189 companies.
The country is ranked amongst the top 8 European Union states that have most number of the offshore companies included. The list is topped by the UK as the number of companies belonging to the country reaches 17,973. The second on the list is Luxembourg with 10,877 and then Cyprus and Latvia come on 3rd and fourth place. Ireland is on 5th, Spain is on 6th, Estonia is on 7th and then finally Malta comes on 8th spot in this list.
There are 49 intermediaries in total that were involved in opening of these 714 Maltese offshore companies.
Here it is also very important to mention that only getting listed in Panama Papers does not indicate any kind of criminal activity. Intermediaries that include banks, accountants or law firms, facilitated as the middle men during the process of setting up these offshore companies.
With all that being said, there were huge protests made by general public after these Panama Papers came to the scene. Massive number of people poured to Valletta, the country’s capital, on 10th of April as they recorded their anger over the revelations made in Panama Papers which stated that top government officials had made shady offshore companies.
The massive crowds chanted “Barra, Barra”, meaning “out, out” on roads of the capital city of the country. They carried placards that which had same words written on them in 2 official languages of the country, Maltese and English. These protestors demanded resignations from quite a few government officials including Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister. Other notable figures who were asked to resign included Keith Schembri who is a businessman and is prime minister’s chief of staff as well as health and energy minister Konrad Mizzi.