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01 October 2014

PL claims possible link between tax evasion case and oil scandal

 - Monday, 18 February 2013, 17:32

by Keith Micallef

Update 1

The Labour Party is insisting that the investigation launched in 2011 on claims of tax evasion by Aikon Limited whose director was George Farrugia, the man granted presidential pardon to turn state witness in the oil procurement scandal in 2013, should have alerted the authorities about the aforesaid illegal commissions on oil.

Labour MPs Chris Cardona and Michael Falzon said this during a news conference in which they accused Finance Minister Tonio Fenech of lying when on Sunday he dismissed claims that in 2011 he was aware that the director of this company was George Farrugia.

Following a story in a Sunday paper which revealed this tax evasion investigation of 2011, later in the day the finance ministry issued a statement in which it said that this case was not related to corruption but rather a wrongful tax declaration.

It said that the owner and director of Aikon Limited resulted in a company named Intershore Fiduciary Services Limited and so, from the information received, no connection with George Farrugia could have been established back then. The ministry accused the PL of trying to link the tax fraud investigation with the oil procurement issue to confuse people.

However the PL yesterday produced a copy of what is known as ‘Form K’ in which on the 13 of January 2011, the Malta Financial Services Authority was informed that Farrugia was the new company director. This declaration was made several months prior to the launch of the investigation which was opened on the 25 of August of the same year, following instructions by the finance ministry.

Asked by The Malta Independent whether the file submitted to the Tax Compliance Unit on which the investigation centred contained any evidence of illegal commissions on oil purchases, Dr Cardona was non-committal saying that it was the authorities’ duty to look into such a possibility.

In their comments both MPs raised questions whether the finance minister briefed cabinet about this case of tax evasion, when discussing the presidential pardon.  They also cast fresh doubts whether Transport Minister Austin Gatt should have been present during this meeting, claiming that his possible involvement in the case could have given rise to a conflict of interest.

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