It was right for Ryan Murdock to combine his tribute to Daphne Caruana Galizia with a reminder of the list of issues objective and expert opinion identifies as in need of urgent resolution.

He quotes from the Transparency International report on Malta from last February published as the Egrant storm was brewing.

* Notable integrity challenges include procurement irregularities, unresolved conflicts of interest among serving government ministers, and the revolving door between the island state’s close-knit political and business class. Malta is also the only country in the European Union to have an incumbent minister named in the Panama Papers revelations in 2016.

* Transfers of money generated from illicit activity in foreign jurisdictions to Maltese bank accounts constitute a notable volume of laundered funds. These violations are typically associated with investment scams, and tax/value added tax fraud (Know Your Country 2017).

* Despite its small size and comprehensive anti-money laundering legislations that include a definition of beneficial ownership, Malta ranked in the top eight EU states with the highest number of offshore entities listed in the Panama Papers leak in 2016.

* Malta’s commitment to combatting money laundering is due to the country’s interest in shielding its role as a reputable financial services centre. Convictions are, however, few and far between, with only five successful prosecutions for money laundering in 2015 (Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit 2017).

* The severity of corruption in Malta is exemplified by the fact that, according to a recent report commissioned by the European Parliament, the country lost at least 11.67 percent of its gross domestic product (approximately $1.25 billion) to corruption every year between 1995 and 2014 (Grech 2016a).

* …The major obstacles affecting businesses in Malta are favouritism in the government bureaucracy and the country’s shadow economy, which comprises of nearly a quarter of the entire market.

* The 2016 edition of the CPI shows that perceptions of corruption in Malta rose last year in the wake of a series of scandals and the country has fallen to an all-time low of 47th position.

* …Defamation is a criminal offence [in Malta] …Malta Independent columnist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia had her bank accounts frozen with a precautionary warrant for $50,000 for publishing a story that Economy Minister Chris Cardona and his consultant Joe Gerada visited a brothel while in Germany on government business (EFJ 2017).

* Malta is the only EU member without a local chapter of Transparency International.

The full Transparency International report can be found here.

Ryan Murdock’s piece is here.