Malta's Leaders Face Scrutiny as Panama Leak Contagion Broadens

  • Prime Minister Muscat used majority to overturn motion
  • Two Maltese ministers revealed to have offshore companies

Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat.

Photographer: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s government survived a no-confidence vote on Monday following revelations from a leaked trove of legal documents that the premier’s chief of staff and energy minister had offshore trust companies.

Muscat used his majority in parliament to overturn the motion even as the tax disclosures have forced the resignation of at least one European leader and given fodder to populist groups angry at a growing worldwide wealth disparity.

The leak of more than 11 million documents earlier this month exposed billions of dollars in assets hidden in tax havens around the world, sparking a global furor. Spain’s acting industry minister resigned after documents leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca showed he had links to an offshore account, and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to provide more transparency over his wealth after disclosures his late father had an offshore company with the law firm.

“I am satisfied at today’s result,” Muscat told reporters. “My government humbly accepts the confidence shown by the vote.”

The facts still need to be verified over the two people implicated in the Panama Papers before any further decisions are taken, he said.

The Group of 20 economies said in a statement on Friday that they will consider “defensive measures” against financial centers and jurisdictions that don’t commit to an international standard requiring the exchange of information about account holders.

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