24 APRIL 2002
By Kurt Sansone
Finance Minister John Dalli yesterday reiterated that government was not going to divulge any details on the fund registration scheme to respect the confidentiality that was promised to investors when the scheme was launched.
Speaking on a political radio station Mr Dalli said that by the end of March Lm170 million in undeclared funds were registered. The finance minister explained that he did not know the details of the people who registered the funds, or whether they were brought over to Malta and stressed that it was neither his nor Labour party spokesperson Leo Brincats interest to know the details.
Mr Brincat has repeatedly criticised government for the lack of details on the schemes performance.
The finance minister explained that the scheme was not a repatriation scheme thus investors had the option of leaving their funds in the foreign country. Mr Dalli would neither divulge what amount of money was brought back to Malta or left offshore in respect of the confidentiality promised.
The registration scheme stipulated that investors registering their funds until the end of March had to pay a one-off penalty of three per cent. The penalty would increase to four per cent for funds registered until the end of June and to five per cent for funds registered until the end of the year.
Owing to the three per cent penalty levelled on the funds registered by the end of March government has had a one-off income of approximately Lm5.1 million. But government will benefit from the registration scheme on a yearly basis, from taxes due on the interest of the registered funds.
On the other hand Maltese investors who had irregularly invested funds abroad are being given the chance to regularise their position no questions asked.
Mr Dalli stressed that after 11 September the push for an international information network on investment clients has accelerated. "In three to four years time all offshore tax havens including Switzerland and Luxembourg will be party to the new system by which information about foreign investors will be passed on to the clients respective home country," Mr Dalli added.
He also pointed out that the Channel Islands, a popular tax haven for Maltese investors, have already agreed to implement the information system.