The Malta Independent 24 April 2019, Wednesday

Updated: Konrad Mizzi reveals names and dates, to ask tax commissioner for audit

David Lindsay Saturday, 27 February 2016, 21:41 Last update: about 4 years ago

Following a week of rampant speculation, Minister Konrad Mizzi yesterday revealed the names of and the dates on which his trust in New Zealand and the shell company held by that trust in Panama were established. 

Dr Mizzi made documentation on both the trust and the Panamanian shell company available to the press yesterday in the interest of “full transparency”.

Dr Mizzi was virtually forced into revealing the details after blogger and Malta Independent columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia broke news of his overseas interests, and the ensuing media storm that followed.

Speaking with The Malta Independent on Sunday yesterday evening, Dr Mizzi also said that early next week he will take the “unprecedented” step of asking the Commissioner for Inland Revenue to audit his financial affairs. No minister or MP, Dr Mizzi said, has taken such a step but he was ready and willing to do so because, he said, “I have followed the rules and I have nothing to hide. The money I have is my own and it is clearly completely legitimate.”

The documentation made available by Dr Mizzi shows that neither the trust nor the Panamanian company hold bank accounts or assets.

From the documentation made available by Dr Mizzi, it transpires that Dr Mizzi became the ultimate beneficial owner of the Panamanian company, named Hearnville Inc., on 2 June 2015, a few weeks before Panama was blacklisted by the European Commission over its financial secrecy.

A document dated 26 February 2016 signed by the former owners of the company in question, ATC Administrators Inc., says that between 2 June 2015 and 21 July 2015, “all the shares in the company were held in our name for the exclusive benefit of Mr Konrad Mizzi”.

Additional research conducted by this newspaper indeed shows that while Hearnville Inc. had first been incorporated on 9 July 2013, it had at the time been registered by ATC Administrators, which later sold the company in 2015 to the trust held by Dr Mizzi.

Correspondence between the Orion Trust and the directors of Hearnville Inc., dated 24 February 2016, confirms that “the company has not yet traded to date”, and that “the company has no assets or bank accounts opened in its name to date”.

The New Zealand trust, named Rotorua Trust, is administered by Orion Trust (New Zealand) Limited. In documentation released to the media by Dr Mizzi yesterday, dated 24 February 2016, confirms that “to date, the Trust only owns 100% of the issued shares of the company Hearnville Inc., a company organised and existing according to the laws of Panama”.

Orion Trust goes on to add that, “The Trust does not, to date, have any bank accounts in its name and Orion does not hold any bank accounts in the Trust’s name.”

Mizzi pledges ‘maximum transparency’

Speaking with this newspaper yesterday, Dr Mizzi said, “To ensure maximum transparency, even ahead of the tabling of my Declaration of Assets, I have disclosed all the facts.”

The New Zealand trust, he explains, is known as the Rotorua Trust and was established on 22 July 2015.  The trust’s period may extend to 79 years and 11 months and, according to the trust deed also seen by this newspaper, Dr Mizzi is the settlor/protector while his wife Sai Mizzi Liang and their two children are listed as the principal beneficiaries.

Dr Mizzi explains that on 22 July 2015, he became the ultimate beneficial owner of the Panamanian company, Hearnville Inc., with the objective to transfer the company into the trust. On 22 July 2015 the shares of Hearnville Inc. were transferred to Orion Trust (New Zealand) Limited as the trustees of Dr Mizzi’s Rotorua Trust.

Dr Mizzi also reiterated his pledge that “any future movements in the trust’s assets will be declared in his annual declaration of assets”.

Asked why he was making the documents available now, he said, “I thought it would useless waiting to make the information available for a few more weeks until the declarations of assets were due.”

He also stresses that he will be paying tax here in Malta on all his assets and that the trust is declared here in Malta, which means that he is domiciled for fiscal reasons here in Malta.

While expressing confidence in Malta’s financial services sector, Dr Mizzi explains his choice of overseas locations for his financial affairs: “My wife is Maltese now but she was Chinese. We lived overseas, one of our properties is overseas and while I am currently resident here in Malta and giving my all to my job as a Minister, which does not mean that I will be here forever.

“The cost structures were affordable in New Zealand and Panama. Having a trust in New Zealand precludes me from also having foreign operations there, so we went for Panama, which has an easier and more efficient system for holding property. 

“At the moment the property consists of a house in the UK, which we are currently renting out. I have only owned the house in London and I was leasing the apartment which has been referred to. Whoever sold that property was not me but, rather, the landlord.”

Prime Minister’s chief of staff also with Panamanian company and New Zealand trust

Mrs Caruana Galizia, meanwhile, last night revealed that the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri shares virtually the same offshore set-up as Dr Mizzi – with a trust in New Zealand which, in turn, holds a Panamanian company.

The only difference, according to Mrs Caruana Galizia, is that while Mr Schembri is the beneficiary of his trust, Dr Mizzi is named as the settlor and protector of his trust.

Dr Mizzi had confirmed with this newspaper yesterday evening that his financial advisors were Nexia BT, and Mrs Caruana Galizia has alleged that Mr Schembri had used the same advisers for his financial affairs.

Dr Mizzi's declaration of assets to Parliament 2015

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