In an exclusive report Sueddeutsche Zeitung said the Maltese police and “a court expert” have been briefed in detail by German criminal investigators from the specialist unit named “Olet”, Latin for “something stinks”. They were also handed around 800 files of information procured by German investigators.
The report expresses uncertainty the documentation handed over will definitively answer ongoing questions arising from the Panama Papers leaks. But “there are certainly starting points in the Panama Papers that the Maltese police can now follow.”
Here’s a translation of the Sueddeutsche Zeiting report today:
The attack, which had caused outrage around the world, had also led to investigations by Europol and the FBI, which the Maltese government had explicitly authorized. Now the German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) has joined in.
A small delegation from Malta passed on early Wednesday morning the entrance gates of the BKA in Wiesbaden – a Maltese police officer and someone who was reported to the BKA as a “court expert”. Their visit will make headlines on the small Mediterranean island, because the two had gone, on a secret mission, to Germany to finally bring enlightenment in an affair that holds Malta since April 2016 in turmoil.
Back then, the Panama Papers had revealed that senior members of the government had concluded strange deals with shell companies, it was about possible kickbacks and other deals, which were followed by demonstrations, further revelations, and finally new elections. But the Maltese authorities have not been able to investigate possible criminal behavior, not least because they did not have the original documents from the Panama Papers.
This has apparently now changed. Because the two visitors from Malta were, on German initiative, guests of the BKA special unit, which evaluated for several months a record that the BKA has bought from an unnamed source – and is apparently similar or identical to the Panama Papers data, the internal data of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which had previously been leaked to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. In the BKA unit – technical term: special set-up commission – seven tax investigators and 25 BKA officials investigate possible traces of money laundering and fraud, the name of the unit is “Olet” – Latin for “something stinks”.
Now the ball lies with the Maltese authorities
The German officials explained their guests the data and the handling of it, and apparently they did not let the Maltese go home empty-handed after two to three hours of joint discussion. The two envoys received around 800 files of information from SZ, NDR and WDR, apparently the relevant information that could be found in the Panama data of the BKA on the prominent cases of the local politicians.
This puts the ball now with the Maltese authorities. The BKA also said that the “police and judicial authorities in Malta and Germany” had also agreed to “further cooperation”.
All of this happens against the background of current events: The world and especially the European Union looks differently on the island since the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, who had also researched among other things, the Panama Papers. Why she was murdered is so far completely unclear. The ten suspects must now be interviewed within 48 hours. But the shock of blowing up an unwelcome journalist in a Member State of the European Union is deep.
Whether the spoils of the Maltese visit can really clear up the Panama Papers cases, however, is questionable. After SZ searches, the allegations from the data alone cannot be substantiated, such as the indications of possible affairs of the Prime Minister’s wife. But there are certainly starting points in the Panama Papers that the Maltese police can now follow.
Malta is not the only country that now has access to some of the purchased data. The BKA confirms that there have been inquiries by authorities from ten countries, either from police departments or from financial services – part of which has already been processed, including Iceland, the Netherlands and England.