Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna announced “major reforms to strengthen the fight against financial crime”. These include the setting up of an agency (Financial Organised Crime Agency) to investigate and prosecute the most serious cases of money laundering and financial crime.
Addressing a conference about Malta’s anti-money laundering action plan, Prof. Scicluna said that Malta’s public administration with its limited available resources, forced public institutions to take on multiple roles. “This has been most evident in the roles of prosecution and investigation where both the police force and the Attorney General have occupied dual functions”, he insisted.
Moreover, the Finance Minister mentioned three other major reforms:
- A new Police Prosecution Unit to accelerate the prosecution of serious cases
- Enhanced powers for the Asset Recovery Bureau
- State Advocate Bill to separate Attorney General’s civil and prosecution functions
Prof. Scicluna explained that with the new structure, the decision to prosecute will be taken by the Office of the Attorney General, other than in minor cases, where the decision to prosecute will remain with the police. He added that the police will retain their role in investigating crime, but the Attorney General will also be given power to instruct the police to investigate a crime and request timely updates on the progress of investigations. The Minister stated that these measures are provided in the State Advocate Bill which is currently at Committee Stage before Parliament and which, according to him, the Government intends to have enacted by mid-July.
The press conference was also addressed by Mr Alfred Camilleri, chairperson of the National Coordination Committee; Mr Joseph Cuschieri, Chief Executive Officer of the Malta Financial Services Authority and Mr Kenneth Farrugia, Director of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit.