Car bomb kills Panama Papers journalist in Malta

A journalist who helped publicize revelations in the Panama Papers and exposed high-level corruption in the Maltese government was killed when a car bomb destroyed her car.

Daphne Caruana Galizia, a blogger whose website was sometimes more popular than all the mainstream dailies in the country combined, recently concentrated her fire on the country's prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and two of his closest aides, accusing them of accepting bribes.

The Guardian:

Her most recent revelations pointed the finger at Malta's prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and two of his closest aides, connecting offshore companies linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the government of Azerbaijan.

No group or individual has come forward to claim responsibility for the attack.

Malta's president, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, called for calm. "In these moments, when the country is shocked by such a vicious attack, I call on everyone to measure their words, to not pass judgment and to show solidarity," she said.

After a fraught general election this summer, commentators had been fearing a return to the political violence that scarred Malta during the 1980s.

In a statement, Muscat condemned the "barbaric attack", saying he had asked police to reach out to other countries' security services for help identifying the perpetrators.

"Everyone knows Ms Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine," said Muscat at a hastily convened press conference, "both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way".

Muscat announced later in parliament that FBI officers were on their way to Malta to assist with the investigation, following his request for outside help from the US government.

The Nationalist party leader, Adrian Delia – himself the subject of negative stories by http://www.politico.eu/article/malta-target-for-italian-mafia-russian-loan-sharks-says-report/– claimed the killing was linked to her reporting. "A political murder took place today," Delia said in a statement. "What happened today is not an ordinary killing. It is a consequence of the total collapse of the rule of law which has been going on for the past four years."

Malta is sometimes called "The Panama of the E.U." for its lax tax policies.  It has been a favorite place for the Russian and Italian mobs to launder their money.  Official corruption such as the payments from a foreign government to the prime minister exposed by Caruana Galizia is business as usual. 

But it isn't just organized crime that takes advantage of Malta's loose tax laws.  Large corporations also seek to hide their profits there.

A pan-European journalistic network called European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) is behind the Malta Files leak. It says it "dug into over 150,000 documents that show how international companies take advantage" of a tax regime in which firms can end up paying the lowest tax on profits in the EU — 5 percent.

The EIC claims that more than 53,000 Maltese-registered entities avoided between €1.5 billion and €2 billion in tax revenues.

While regular income tax in Malta is 35 percent, a reduction is available for a shareholder if they don't live on the island or the company's activity don't take place there.

The EIC says that makes Malta "a target for firms linked to the Italian mafia, Russian loan sharks and the highest echelons of the Turkish elite."

When Finance Minister Edward Scicluna visited Germany last week, he told local press that Malta had "nothing to hide" regarding its tax system, Malta Today reported.

Malta was embroiled in the 2016 Panama Papers revelations, the largest data leak in history.

The list of suspects in Caruana Galizia's murder is a long one and includes the prime minister, organized crime, the Turkish government, and perhaps a foreign intelligence service who was benefiting from Malta's wild west financial industry.  Her murder was a shock to the system in Malta that might lead to more investigations that would expose official corruption and links between the government and organized crime.

A journalist who helped publicize revelations in the Panama Papers and exposed high-level corruption in the Maltese government was killed when a car bomb destroyed her car.

Daphne Caruana Galizia, a blogger whose website was sometimes more popular than all the mainstream dailies in the country combined, recently concentrated her fire on the country's prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and two of his closest aides, accusing them of accepting bribes.

The Guardian:

Her most recent revelations pointed the finger at Malta's prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and two of his closest aides, connecting offshore companies linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the government of Azerbaijan.

No group or individual has come forward to claim responsibility for the attack.

Malta's president, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, called for calm. "In these moments, when the country is shocked by such a vicious attack, I call on everyone to measure their words, to not pass judgment and to show solidarity," she said.

After a fraught general election this summer, commentators had been fearing a return to the political violence that scarred Malta during the 1980s.

In a statement, Muscat condemned the "barbaric attack", saying he had asked police to reach out to other countries' security services for help identifying the perpetrators.

"Everyone knows Ms Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine," said Muscat at a hastily convened press conference, "both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way".

Muscat announced later in parliament that FBI officers were on their way to Malta to assist with the investigation, following his request for outside help from the US government.

The Nationalist party leader, Adrian Delia – himself the subject of negative stories by http://www.politico.eu/article/malta-target-for-italian-mafia-russian-loan-sharks-says-report/– claimed the killing was linked to her reporting. "A political murder took place today," Delia said in a statement. "What happened today is not an ordinary killing. It is a consequence of the total collapse of the rule of law which has been going on for the past four years."

Malta is sometimes called "The Panama of the E.U." for its lax tax policies.  It has been a favorite place for the Russian and Italian mobs to launder their money.  Official corruption such as the payments from a foreign government to the prime minister exposed by Caruana Galizia is business as usual. 

But it isn't just organized crime that takes advantage of Malta's loose tax laws.  Large corporations also seek to hide their profits there.

A pan-European journalistic network called European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) is behind the Malta Files leak. It says it "dug into over 150,000 documents that show how international companies take advantage" of a tax regime in which firms can end up paying the lowest tax on profits in the EU — 5 percent.

The EIC claims that more than 53,000 Maltese-registered entities avoided between €1.5 billion and €2 billion in tax revenues.

While regular income tax in Malta is 35 percent, a reduction is available for a shareholder if they don't live on the island or the company's activity don't take place there.

The EIC says that makes Malta "a target for firms linked to the Italian mafia, Russian loan sharks and the highest echelons of the Turkish elite."

When Finance Minister Edward Scicluna visited Germany last week, he told local press that Malta had "nothing to hide" regarding its tax system, Malta Today reported.

Malta was embroiled in the 2016 Panama Papers revelations, the largest data leak in history.

The list of suspects in Caruana Galizia's murder is a long one and includes the prime minister, organized crime, the Turkish government, and perhaps a foreign intelligence service who was benefiting from Malta's wild west financial industry.  Her murder was a shock to the system in Malta that might lead to more investigations that would expose official corruption and links between the government and organized crime.

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