Malta’s Attorney General has confirmed that he sent a memo halting police plans to seize data servers from Nexia BT in relation to the Panama Papers scandal, but rejected any suggestion that it was a “murder memo” and defended his decision to send the letter.
“Contrary to the false allegations, unfounded offensive remarks, and innuendo, nowhere does the advice propose the halting of any investigation or of the collection of evidence against any professionals, government officials, or other persons. The advice does not relate to the whole investigation but only to one particular action on which it was sought.”
“It focuses specifically on the issue of the seizure of servers from an operating concern and on the need for the Police to base such an action on well-founded reasonable suspicion in order to avoid illegality and liability for the payment of damages as has occurred in the past.”
“It is difficult to imagine any reasonable and responsible lawyer advising in favour of such an intrusive measure without a sound legal basis,” Attorney General Peter Grech said in a statement.
Earlier today, Matthew Caruana Galizia described the letter as “murder memo”, explaining that if police took action then, his mother, journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, would still be alive.
Quoting two sources, the Times of Malta earlier reported that Grech had sent a note to police warning that following up on the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit’s advice to conduct a seizure of Nexia BT data would be “highly intrusive” and “counterproductive”.
He said that police should demand a “high level of reasonable suspicion” before such a measure would be justified.
Nexia BT is the accountancy firm that set up the offshore Panamanian accounts of former Minister Konrad Mizzi and former Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri.
Caruana Galizia was the journalist to first reveal the existence of the secret companies.
The revelations would eventually lead to journalists uncovering that 17 Black, a target client of the Panamanian companies, belonged to Yorgen Fenech, the man accused of murdering Caruana Galizia. Fenech’s company is also linked to the controversial Enemalta purchase of a Montenegrin windfarm.
Grech has been facing renewed calls for his resignation ever since the first hints of the memo were revealed during the public inquiry into the assassination of Caruana Galizia.