As published on timesofmalta.com, Monday 2 August, 2021.
Information on around 20 Maltese nationals’ offshore holdings in Dubai has been passed on to the financial crime police by the tax authorities.
Information from the so-called ‘Dubai list’ was obtained from Germany last week following a request by Malta’s Inland Revenue Department.
On July 25, Times of Malta reported how a request for data on any Maltese passport holders was sent to the German government by the island’s tax officials after Berlin had in June purchased data on millions of international taxpayers from an anonymous source in Dubai.
The move to obtain information on Maltese nationals was aimed at uncovering potential tax dodgers who hide their wealth overseas, with a particular focus on high-net-worth individuals.
It is understood that while some of those identified live and work in Dubai, others are domiciled on the island, raising suspicions over their holdings in the Gulf emirate.
It is not yet clear whether the data was passed on to the police by taxmen for criminal investigation or as part of an intelligence sharing exercise.
Tax evasion, and lax enforcement thereof, was singled out as one of the main reasons why Malta was last month placed on the so-called grey list of untrustworthy financial jurisdictions.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global watchdog, ‘greylisted’ Malta and the government has since signed a commitment to improve the effectiveness of its fight against major financial crime.
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.
In June, Germany purchased data from an anonymous source in Dubai on millions of international taxpayers.
The data 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.