The Minister for Culture, Jose’ Herrera, said the Act of Interpretation is in process after insistence by Moneyval that gave an EU legal interpretation, that Malta has to assure that actions be taken against money laundering and proportionate money sanctions be announced to enable these to serve as an effective deterrent without delay and not requiring Judicial review.
He was replying to the Leader of the Opposition who said that MPs are tied to following and honouring the Constitution but an Amendment to the Interpretation Act has been proposed that goes against the Constitution and restricts the fundamental rights of individuals.
He referred to two Court sentences where two administrative fines had been imposed that because of the amount of fines these can be interpreted as criminal sanctions and should only be taken by Court after a legal hearing. The Constitutional Court said that when fines are substantial, rights should be safeguarded at all times.
Opposition Leader Dr Grech said the Government had withdrawn an Amendment that required a two thirds approval regarding Interpretation but this now requires a simple majority.
He maintained the Opposition will not allow the rights of citizens to be trampled over. He maintained that those opposed to the Amendment include former Judges Giovanni Bonello and Anthony Borg Barthet as well as the Chamber of Advocate, and others.
Dr Grech said the Opposition is ready to help and propose positive Amendments after the Government withdraws this proposed Amendment and withdraws other Legal Amendments.
Meanwhile, Minister Herrera said Maltese Laws do not provide an explanation of what constitutes a criminal act. He said that under Nationalist Governments over 400 tribunals related to Court had been created and these included seizures and the imposition of very stiff fines.
Herrera said at the time the Nationalist Government had not felt these were against the Constitution and he mentioned that the Board of Special Commissioners had been replaced by an Administrative Justice Tribunal with the same powers.
He asked why a Tribunal had been created instead of an Administrative Court. Minister Herrera said the main principle of the Amendment is that even though the administrative fine may be substantial, it is not classed as being a fine for a criminal act but the Amendment still leaves the way open for Court procedures to be taken.