The Labour Party will “take decisions” regarding Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri only after the various ongoing magisterial inquiries are published.
What the Labour Party failed to mention is that the only magisterial inquiry relevant to 17 Black is being challenged in court by Schembri, Mizzi and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat himself not to be opened. The inquiry has been further stalled because former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil is insisting that Magistrate Antonio Mizzi – the husband of Labour MEP Marlene Mizzi – recuse himself due to a conflict of interest. The case is currently being heard by the Constitutional Court.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Prime Minister has insisted the people involved “would shoulder their responsibility if wrongdoing is found”.
“There are ongoing independent investigations and the Prime Minister will not prejudice their outcome. The PM’s position has always been clear, since before the general elections,” a spokesman for the Prime Minister told Lovin Malta.
Asked for a reaction to yesterday’s revelations, a spokesperson for the Labour Party told Lovin Malta the allegations being made in the media were subject to various magisterial inquiries and rule of law dictated that decisions were taken on the basis of declarations by independent and trusted authorities.
“This, especially when there are continuous denials from the people about whom these allegations are being made and when in a number of instances there are also libel proceedings,” the party spokesperson said, adding that the people concerned already said the media reports are in many cases a repetition of allegations that emerged before the last general election.
“The Labour Party will take its decisions once the results of the magisterial inquiries are published,” the spokesperson concluded.
Just yesterday, as part of The Daphne Project, Times of Malta and German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung published email correspondence proving for the first time that Mizzi and Schembri’s companies were destined to receive $2 million from target client 17 Black, a Dubai company that received $2 million in transactions from an Azeri individual and an agent of Malta’s LNG project some months earlier.
Although the story emerges from an FIAU report, the newspapers yesterday for the first time published email correspondence showing accountants NexiaBT acting on behalf of both companies and explaining how they would receive the funds. Mizzi yesterday insisted that his offshore structures were always intended as just a family trust while Schembri claimed 17 Black was simply named as part of one of the many business plans his group of companies draws up.
Meanwhile, several Labour insiders who spoke to Lovin Malta on condition of anonymity said the police should investigate the new revelations and the two men should step aside before further jeopardising the good work being done by government.
Is there a magisterial inquiry about 17 Black? And how many magisterial inquiries need to be concluded?
There are at least three magisterial inquiries concerning Keith Schembri and/or Konrad Mizzi:
1. Egrant – An inquiry into the Panama company alleged to be owned by the Prime Minister’s wife Michelle Muscat, as well as Pilatus Bank as a whole. The inquiry is being led by Magistrate Aaron Bugeja and was launched in April 2017.
2. Passports kickbacks – An inquiry into kickbacks allegedly received by Keith Schembri from Brian Tonna on the sale of three passports to Russian citizens. The inquiry is being led by Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras and was launched in May 2017.
3. Printing equipment kickbacks – An inquiry into into whether Schembri paid €650,000 to former managing director of Times of Malta Adrian Hillman for commission on printing equipment sold to the newspaper by Schembri. The inquiry is being led by Josette Demicoli and was also launched in May 2017.
Bonus. Panama Papers inquiry – An inquiry called for by former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil and challenged in court by Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi, Brian Tonna, Karl Cini, Malcolm Scerri and Adrian Hillman, all of whom were implicated. The inquiry is being led by Magistrate Antonio Mizzi, the husband of Labour MEP Marlene Mizzi and Busuttil has filed a court application to recuse himself. The Magistrate denied his request and Busuttil filed a Constitutional case to overturn the decision. The inquiry is therefore not yet underway.
There are also two magisterial inquiries into the leaks from the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit.