BRUSSELS, Oct 24 (Reuters) - The European Union should hold an inquiry into Malta’s anti-money laundering rules, and Europol should join the investigation into last week’s murder of a Maltese investigative journalist, EU lawmakers said on Tuesday.
Daphne Caruana Galizia, the prominent reporter killed by a car bomb last week, had written extensively and published leaked documents on alleged money laundering cases involving top Maltese officials.
“We want a serious investigation by the European Commission on Malta’s respect of the European rules against money laundering,” EU Green legislators Eva Joly and Sven Giegold said in a joint statement.
“The Maltese government has failed to take serious action against high level cases of money laundering in its country”, they added.
The EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said in a letter to EU Greens MEPs dated Oct. 23 that “based on the information available so far, there appear to be no grounds to suspect a systematic breach of Union law pertaining to the prevention of money laundering” in Malta.
But she added that the Commission has requested more information from the Maltese authorities on recent cases of alleged money laundering involving Keith Allen Schembri, the chief of staff of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
Joly, a French lawmaker who chairs the assembly’s inquiry committee on the Panama Papers, also called for the appointment of an international investigator to shed light on the killing of Caruana Galizia.
The president of the EU Parliament, the Italian conservative Antonio Tajani, echoed Joly’s calls to pursue all trails in the murder investigation.
He said that Europol, the EU law enforcement agency, should participate in the inquiry “as part of an international investigation where all police forces can contribute to find the culprits”.
The Maltese government has sought assistance from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and from Dutch experts to help resolve the case.
The Parliament will hold later on Tuesday a debate during its plenary sitting on the “protection of journalists and the defence of media freedom in Malta.”
The press room of the EU assembly in Strasbourg has been renamed after Caruana Galizia. (Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Hugh Lawson)