In Italy, there is currently a controversy revolving around Trust Italia.
The issue is about the use of foundations and trusts for money laundering. In Malta, there are a number of trusts and foundations. One of these foundations, Repubblika recently clashed with the Commissioner of Voluntary Organizations and accused him of putting spokes in the wheel in the workings of this foundation.
There are other foundations, which the media should be asking questions about. One such foundation is the Daphne Caruana Galizia. This Foundation is patronized by a number of international journalists and lawyers. One such lawyer is Jason Azzopardi.
If one goes into the Foundation’s website, one reads that these journalists and lawyers are ‘graciously’ rendering their services. It should be stated that the website does not state clearly whether its members or lawyers are being remunerated. But it does not exclude it either. The way their contribution is worded is that their services are ‘graciously provided’. This phrase leaves it open to interpretation. One may mistake the word ‘graciously’ for ‘gratuitously’ but graciously does not exclude that one still could get paid for services rendered.
Jason Azzopardi and his contribution to the Foundation is to be found in this section.
Then one needs to press on mission and then go to advisors or else go directly through this link.
The name of Jason Azzopardi is among those giving legal advice to the Foundation. The way this legal advice is described prompts more questions than answers. In describing Jason Azzopardi’s contribution, the Foundation states that he is a criminal lawyer. Since when does a foundation need a criminal lawyer?
An answer could be that the Foundation needs a criminal lawyer because of the ongoing criminal court cases regarding the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. But one needs to point out that these criminal proceedings do not concern The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation. The Foundation has no legal representation in these criminal proceedings. It is the Caruana Galizia family that is being represented in these legal proceedings as parte civile. The Foundation is a separate entity from the Caruana Galizia family. Both have a separate identity. In other words, the Caruana Galizia family and Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation are two distinct and separate legal entities. If Jason Azzopardi is being listed as a lawyer giving services to the Foundation, then, it should be specifically stated by the Foundation what type of services this lawyer is actually giving to this Foundation. Moreover, the Foundation should make a clear statement whether such services are being rendered for free or against payment. There should not be any space for interpretation here. The term ‘graciously provided’ does not clarify whether Azzopardi is being paid or not.
It is about time that the authorities start to take seriously such types of Foundations and check whether they were created, as it is turning out in Italy, for tax evasion purposes. I am sure that Malta has been Grey Listed also because these types of Foundations, like other entities, are not properly monitored by the agencies or authorities responsible. The laws are there. What is lacking is adequate control of the management and governance of foundations.
It is time that the Commissioner of Voluntary Organizations is given sufficient staff to enable a proper investigation and monitoring Foundations.