The ‘Dubai list’ of offshore holdings belonging to Maltese nationals contains no bank account information and is limited to property and high-value assets.
Sources said information on real estate, yachts and other assets in the Gulf emirate, owned by some 20 Maltese nationals, were being reviewed by tax officials and financial crime police.
Local authorities were hoping to get their hands on bank account information in a bid to discover possible tax dodging or other financial crime, by wealthy Maltese businesspeople or politicians.
“Unfortunately, the information is not what we were hoping for. It could still prove useful, but it is not what we were after,” a source privy to the data told Times of Malta.
Replying to questions sent, a government spokesman said Prime Minister Robert Abela has “no knowledge of any government MPs with offshore holdings in Dubai or the United Arab Emirates”.
The prime minister also “categorically denies that he has, or ever had, any offshore holdings in Dubai or the United Arab Emirates”.
Details from the so-called ‘Dubai list’ were obtained from Germany last week following a request by Malta’s Inland Revenue Department.
Last month, Times of Malta reported how a request for information on any Maltese passport holders was sent to the German government by the island’s tax officials after Berlin purchased data in June on millions of international taxpayers from an anonymous source in Dubai.
The move came after Malta was added to the grey list of untrustworthy financial jurisdictions.
Tax evasion, and lax enforcement of tax laws, was singled out as one of the main reasons why Malta was in June ‘greylisted’ by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global money laundering watchdog.
The government has since signed a commitment to improving the effectiveness of its fight against major financial crime.
Tax officials step up enforcement
Tax officials have been trying to step up enforcement in recent weeks in a bid to prove they are taking tax evasion seriously. However, there have not yet been any major tax evasion prosecutions this year.
It is understood that while some of those identified in the Dubai list live and work in the UAE, others are domiciled in Malta, raising suspicions over their property holdings there.
Dubai has been at the centre of the political crisis in Malta that led to the collapse of Joseph Muscat’s Labour administration in 2019.
The data purchased by Germany provides information on people who own land, property and other assets in the Gulf, including several thousand Germans, the German Finance Ministry said in a statement announcing the move last month.
The German Federal Central Tax Office (BZSt) paid around €2 million for the data, according to Der Spiegel magazine.
It is understood that the data on Maltese nationals was handed over to Malta for free.
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