The Mediterranean island of Malta today stands accused of being a tax haven, days after it assumed the rotating role as president of the European Union.
The accusation is contained in a report written by an accountancy lecturer at Nottingham University Business School named Tommaso Faccio, which said that the “tax haven” designation was based on the EU’s “own criteria”, according to a report carried today by the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
It said the report had been commissioned by Green party MEPs in the European parliament.
A Maltese government spokesperson told the Guardian that Maltese officials rejected the claims contained in the report, “pointing to a range of technical standards the Maltese government had adopted through the EU and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.”
The spokesperson also “pointed to the government’s promise to ‘carry forward’ work on a number of draft EU laws on tax, including country-by-country reporting, in a document released on Monday”, it said.
‘€14bn (£12.1bn) in taxes’
In its report, the Guardian noted that the EU’s smallest member state, which joined the block in 2004, “helped multinationals avoid paying €14bn (£12.1bn) in taxes between 2012 and 2015 that would have gone to other countries”.
The Guardian, which last April had been one of the 107 global media organisations that participated in the initial publication of the contents of the so-called “Panama Papers” trove of leaked documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, noted in its report today that Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat had faced calls to resign after information contained in the Panama Papers “showed two of his allies had offshore accounts”.
Malta assumed the EU’s rotating six-month presidency term on 1 January. As the Guardian report notes, EU finance ministers are expected to address issues having to do with corporate tax matters during Malta’s time at the helm, including a proposal that would see large multinationals operating in Europe being required to disclose profits earned and taxes paid – so-called “country by country” reporting –that transparency campaigners have long advocated.
To read the Guardian’s story in full on its website, click here.