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Is Malta the soft underbelly of Europe ?

Malta is in the eye of the storm after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia investigate journalist and blogger who denounced corruption prevailing in her country. But the smallest EU's State with a population of 400,000 is a matter of concern to the European authorities and also to police and judicial authorities for some time. Malta joined the EU in 2004 and can be proud of its economic performances resulting in GDP per capita of € 22,802 (Fig.2016) not far from that of Spain with € 25,842 and Italy with € 29,866. Everyone understands that Malta does not want to only depend on income from tourism. And each country has the sovereign right to decide to develop in particular its service economy. But this sector and especially the financial services must be monitored closely. Following the Panama Papers scandal in which a senior Maltese Minister was named, the country's authorities sought to justify their anti-corruption and anti-money laundering policies.It is in this context of distrust that the matter of the issuing of passports for non-EU citizens re-emerges.The program launched in 2014 requires applicants to pay different amounts including € 650,000 contribution to a national development fund and € 150,000 investment in Government stocks or bonds. This program enabled the authorities to issue nearly 800 passports to non EU-residents so far.Yet, this trend worries many observers who fear that such a process will facilitate the movement of persons linked to criminal networks and/or with the intention to evade taxation.It must be underlined that the Maltese passport provides visa-free travel to nearly 170 countries around the world. The Maltese authorities have denied any indulgence in this matter.However, the climate currently prevailing in the Island does not really inspire confidence. And finally the upcoming developments in the so called " Paradise Papers " case could intensify pressure on the local authorities.

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