While the European Union focuses on Malta, an EU Member state, due to its rampant money laundering and corruption issues, there is an additional problem that has not yet been adequately discussed in local media: the existence of substantial bank accounts owned or controlled by Palestinians, containing funds stolen and diverted from aid sent to the Palestinian Authority. Some may find it ironic that Malta, an EU member, allows its banks to hold billions stolen from EU and international aid programs. Perhaps the European Council or Parliament might want to open an investigation.
Malta has had a long relationship with the Palestinians; it recognizes the non-existent "State of Palestine," which maintains an embassy in Valetta, and there is a small Maltese diplomatic presence, a Representative Office (Consulate) in Ramallah, the provisional capital of the Palestinian Authority (PA). There is a sizable Palestinian expat colony in Malta; their role in covertly moving money into Malta is suspected .
Malta has been the longtime home of Suha Arafat, widow of the late leader of the PA, and the reputed recipient of a substantial portion of the billions of Euros and Dollars, in Palestinian aid funds diverted or stolen by her husband. Her brother, Gaby al-Tawil, is the former Palestinian Ambassador to Malta. The current ambassador is Fadi Hanania.
Senior officials in Fatah, the Palestinian Authority's nationalist political party, known to be allied with Arafat and later his successor Abbas, are known to have regularly siphoned off cash diverted from EU aid programs, and a portion of that money was secreted in Maltese financial institutions. According to reliable sources, it is substantial. Therefore, exercise caution when dealing with Maltese nationals seeking to deposit major sums into new accounts.
Please also note that HAMAS has been depositing cryptocurrency raised from its supporters into Maltese accounts.
Compliance officers at international banks that are opening accounts for Maltese passport holders who are found to be speaking Arabic, and not Maltese, please note the CBI issue. We do not know how many Palestinians hold Malta IIP passports, acquired through the country's Citizenship by Investment program, and whether the true place of birth of the holder is always correctly entered, but know that the risk levels of such individuals should be taken as elevated, and Source of Funds be documented to rule out EU aid money stolen by Palestinian PEPs.
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock - Financial Crime Consultant
Chronicles of Monte Friesner - Financial Crime Analyst