Joseph Muscat Secret
Opinion Analysis

The Prime Minister Is Keeping A Major Secret From Everyone In Malta And It’s About Time He Comes Clean

Who owns MacBridge?

It’s 10am on April 18th, 2018. The government just called an urgent press conference at Castille. Excited whispers among the press say it’s about 17 Black, the Dubai company that made the news again last night.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat walks towards a podium, with a stern look on his face.

“As you are all aware, there was an important development last night,” he begins.

“A story was published by Times of Malta and Süddeutsche Zeitung, the newspaper that first broke Panama Papers. In their story, the newspapers published an email which makes direct reference to the companies owned by two key members of my staff.”

The two key members of staff are Chief of Staff Keith Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, who both admitted to having companies in Panama almost two years ago. According to the latest emails published, these men were planning to receive €150,000 per month from two other companies called 17 Black and MacBridge.

Muscat continues…

“The first thing I did upon reading this story was to call Schembri and Mizzi to my office and ask them for everything they knew about the two companies 17 Black and MacBridge. I wanted to know why they were referenced in these bank opening forms.”

“Konrad Mizzi assured me he had no knowledge of these companies. He said his company must have been erroneously included in the email by Nexia BT. I believe him but I have asked Nexia BT to provide me a detailed explanation of how this could have happened.”

“Keith Schembri, on the other hand, confirmed to me that he did have knowledge of these companies, so much so that they were included in draft business plans for his group of companies Kasco. Therefore, I asked him the obvious question: who owns the companies? And what business was he planning to do with them that would give him €150,000 per month while in his role as my chief of staff?”

“Following our conversation, I can confirm the following: 17 Black is owned by Yorgen Fenech, the CEO of the Tumas Group, one of the shareholders of the new power station. The second company, MacBridge, is owned by…”

——————

That press conference never happened.

It didn’t happen on February 22nd 2017 when now-assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia first named the company 17 Black on her blog.

It didn’t happen on April 17th, 2018, when Times of Malta and Süddeutsche Zeitung linked 17 Black and MacBridge directly to Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.

Incredibly, it didn’t even happen on November 9th, 2018, when Yorgen Fenech was named as the owner of 17 Black.

On each of these occasions, it’s hard to imagine the Prime Minister not demanding answers from his two right-hand-men. He obviously sat them down and asked the questions journalists are asking. He obviously got their replies.

On each of these occasions, it’s hard to imagine the Prime Minister not demanding answers from his two right-hand-men. He obviously sat them down and asked the questions journalists are asking. He obviously got their replies.

But for reasons known only to him, he has failed to share those answers with the taxpaying public to whom he is accountable. Instead, he stands by his men and hides behind sham-like statements such as: “It’s 17 Black that’s under investigation, not Keith Schembri.”

There is at least one crucial piece of information that Joseph Muscat is withholding from the public: who owns MacBridge?

Keith Schembri definitely knows. Joseph Muscat definitely knows.

But instead of being informed by them, we the public must wait for this game of hide and seek to keep playing out. Our only hope is that Reuters or some other international consortium of journalists manages to find out.

Just like we depended on them to find out about the Panama companies in the first place.

Naturally, there’s no guarantee that we will ever find out. Information does not always make its way serendipitously to journalists, at least not while it counts.

Perhaps that is why the Prime Minister feels so comfortable keeping this information to himself. Maybe he thinks he can keep doing it forever. And maybe he can.

But in the meantime we remain in this pathetic situation. He knows. We know he knows. And he knows we know he knows.

We also know that MacBridge ownership is very much in the public interest, just as the ownership of 17 Black was.

So what will it take for the Prime Minister to come clean and tell us? Is the answer so damning he has to hold the secret with his life?

Who is he protecting? Keith Schembri? Another business person?

Whoever it is, he is choosing them over the rest of his Cabinet, his parliamentary group, the Labour Party, all of its volunteers and supporters, and the entire Maltese population.

Which makes it all the more interesting for us to find out and all the more damning once we do.

Cover photo: Clifton Fenech

Do you want to know who owns MacBridge Inc?

READ NEXT: 13 Reasons Why It’s Unacceptable For Joseph Muscat To Wait For The 17 Black Inquiry

Written By

Chris Peregin

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