Malta courts

Four of the most expensive fines issued by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit’s (FIAU) in 2023 have been appealed by the defendants, two of which were part of a constitutional recourse related to the right to a fair hearing.

In response to a parliamentary question submitted by Opposition MP Chris Said, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana revealed that the overwhelming majority of fines issued by the FIAU in 2023 thus far, neither were they appealed, nor were they part of a constitutional ruling.

Since the start of the year (2023), there were a total of 76 fines issued by the FIAU, 75 per cent of which were valued at less than €5,000. Whenever a fine is worth less than that sum, the defendant is unable to submit an appeal.

Meanwhile, just nine of all fines issued were valued at over €100,000. Of those nine cases, four of them were appealed, four of them were not and one of them was still within the time limit to be appealed.

The two most expensive fines, valued at €279,756 and €242,243 were both appealed.

Meanwhile, two fines, both the second most expensive one valued at €242,243 and another fine valued at €220,992 were part of a constitutional recourse.

In recent months, a total of three landmark rulings have been made against the FIAU, for allegedly having been in breach to the right to a fair hearing of a number of companies.

In each instance, the court nullified the fines issued against the firms after it ruled that the FIAU allegedly acted as judge, jury and executioner in the manner in which it investigated the firms and imposed administrative fines.

In doing so, the court also nullified the laws pertaining the to the FIAU’s ability to investigate firms and issue fines, however, in each instance the FIAU submitted an appeal.

Therefore rulings handed down by the court were not final, and the FIAU is able to operate as before until a final decision is taken on the appeal.

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