Malta’s reputation was called into question in a story which Finnish National Broadcaster YLE broke. The story relates to money laundering. According to YLE, a Russian man born in 1964 who also holds a Maltese passport was one of the three people detained in Finland over the weekend on suspicion of money laundering. According to YLE, the Finnish police targeted a real estate firm in what was described as a major police operation. The police questioned seven people in connection to the case, detained three and later released one of them. The Russian national’s name was withheld in the interest of the investigation. From the documents submitted to the Finnish Patent and Registration Office show that the man is also a citizen of Malta.
Investigative journalist Matthew Caruana Galizia in a tweet revealed that the “Maltese citizen” was indeed Melnikov Pavel Eduardovich. Eduardovich’s name surfaces in the government gazette dated 19 August 2016.
The “Maltese citizen” using his EU passport to run this money laundering racket is Melnikov Pavel Eduardovich — Maltese ID card number 385315L. His name appears in the Malta government gazette of 19 August 2016. https://t.co/kHqjijunCx
— Matthew Caruana Galizia (@mcaruanagalizia) September 24, 2018
YLE mentioned Malta as being frequently used as a “shield for tax planning and tax avoidance”. However according to the reports, no evidence was found linking the Russian national to business in Malta.
The company, although named by the investigators, was identified as Airiston Helmi by the Finnish national broadcaster following eyewitness’ reports who reportedly saw various police vehicles outside the firm’s offices.
YLE reports that the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was prompted by suspicions that a company in the southwest of Finland was involved in an extensive international money laundering scheme. The NBI suspects that millions of euros have been laundered and has also used illegal labor. According to what was reported, the NBI admitted that a number of months are needed in order to comb through the data elevated during the raids.
Airiston Helmi owns several islands and strategically-important maritime routes connecting Turku with the Aland Islands.
The company was established in 2007 and is a real estate and rental firm. Airiston Helmi is reportedly a small company which buys and sells properties for millions of euros. From the property documents, Airiston Helmi was buying and selling property for €9.2 millions between 2007-2014. According to the Finnish national broadcaster the firm reported a €300,000 loss in 2017.