It’s time to target the enablers of large-scale financial crime, including law firms, accountants and the jurisdictions allowing corporate secrecy, says the son of murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Caruana Galizia was assassinated by a car bomb in October 2017 as she prepared to publish articles revealing corruption at the highest levels of Malta’s government.
In July this year, a public enquiry in Malta found that the country’s government had created a ‘favourable climate’ for anyone who wanted to ‘eliminate’ the controversial journalist and blogger, and that the state should shoulder responsibility for her assassination.
According to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s son, Matthew, the institutional enablers of illicit money flows are equally responsible for her death.
“There are no legitimate reasons for corporate secrecy”
“There are underground rivers of money that most people can’t see. They don’t even know that they exist,” Matthew Caruana Galizia said at today’s Dark Money conference.
Matthew Caruana Galizia is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and software engineer.
He worked at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) for five years, where he founded the organisation’s Data and Research Unit and was involved in six major investigations, including the Panama Papers leak of over 11.5 million financial and legal records.
Speaking today of his work with the ICIJ, Caruana Galizia said:
“We realised that one of the worst things driving this secrecy was serious crime, including murder.”
“There are no legitimate reasons for corporate secrecy,” he went on, “even in cases where the people who wanted secret offshore companies from firms like Mossack Fonseca said that they feared kidnapping or blackmail.”
“That fear turned out just to be an excuse,” he said. “What people really wanted offshore companies for was to hide something that they didn’t want the world to know about. 99.9% of the time there was a bad reason for that.”
At today’s conference, Matthew Caruana Galizia described how he and his late mother had found out about high-level corruption in Malta through the Panama Papers.
“We uncovered that two of Malta’s most senior officials, who were directly responsible for awarding billions of dollars in public funds to private companies, had set up secret companies in Panama and secret offshore trusts in New Zealand, that no one except them, their enablers and co-conspirators would ever know about, just five days after being elected in 2013,” he said.
“The damage they are doing is simply not quantifiable”
“These were the same officials that my mother had been investigating for years,” Matthew Caruana Galizia said, “with her suspicion increasing with every new deal they struck.”
Earlier this year, a man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, while another suspect, Maltese businessman Yorgen Fenech, was indicted for her murder in August.
However, according to the victim’s son, there’s a much longer list of guilty parties.
“The damage to society is caused not just by the people who planned my mother’s murder,” Matthew Caruana Galizia said earlier today, “but also by the enablers of the corruption that my mother was investigating.”
Those enablers include the many jurisdictions that allow financial secrecy, the accountants, the corporate service providers and the government officials involved in the illicit schemes, he said.
“These are enemies of transparency. The damage they are doing is simply not quantifiable. It’s too enormous to even imagine,” Matthew Caruana Galizia said.
Sign up here for the New Money Review newsletter
Click here for a full list of episodes of the New Money Review podcast: the future of money in 30 minutes
Related content from New Money Review