Corruption is a serious crime present in all societies. The UN states on this day that “Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune.” It affects schools, hospitals and other vital services, and drives away foreign investment.
On October 31, 2003, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption. It designated December 9 as the International Anti-corruption Day in order to raise awareness against this scourge and disseminate the valuable role of the Convention in combating and preventing it.
According to the World Economic Forum, an estimated $2.6 trillion are stolen annually through corruption (a sum equivalent to more than 5% of the global GDP), while $1 trillion is paid in bribes every year.
Today, Malta hits newspapers’ headlines across the world, it is far from being spared by corruption. A background in figures: In 2017, Malta recorded GDP growth of almost 6%, more than double the average of the rest of the EU, and enjoys full employment. In part, this is explained by the tourism sector boom, which accounts for 25% of its GDP. But the “Maltese economic miracle” is also drinking from other sources, and some are allegedly of dubious morality.
According to mainstream local news papers, since the Labour Party came into power in 2013, the island is opened for business to Russians and Middle Eastern investors, whose source of wealth cannot be clearly vetted, the Malta passport scheme is also a controversial matter in the Maltese public opinion, and money laundering suspicions have been revealed with the Panama papers and the Malta files. Although Malta is a small island with a population of about 430,000 inhabitants, it is estimated that around 2 billion euros are evaded every year. In fact, the "Malta Papers" revealed that Malta had become the European Union’s tax haven for large companies and private fortunes.
Investigating and fighting against corruption has cost Daphne Caruana Galizia her life. The Maltese journalist, killed in a car bomb attack on October 2017, was investigating corruption at the highest level of State. Among the scandals she uncovered, there was the alleged possession of secret companies in Panama by people close to the Office of the Prime Minister. Investigations are still ongoing and two persons have been arrested the past days, in direct connections with the inquiry linked to her murder. The Business man Yorgen Fenech and a taxi driver, allegedly middleman Melvin Theuma.
Maltese have took to the streets to protest against this state of affairs and a series of protests have shaken the country, leading to the announcement of his resignation by the prime minister Joseph Muscat. Non-governmental organizations, media organisations and citizens around the world are joining forces to combat corruption. What is happening today in Malta is an example of how citizens can hold the power accountable.