The Malta Independent 24 April 2019, Wednesday

Updated: Keith Schembri to file libel proceedings against Busuttil; PN 'will not be intimidated'

Sunday, 28 February 2016, 14:28 Last update: about 4 years ago

The Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Keith Schembri, today said that he would be filing libel proceedings against the leader of the opposition for alleging that he registered a 'secret company' in Panama.

In reply, the PN said that no libel proceedings would stop it from unearthing the truth and speaking about it. Earlier in the day, Mr Schembri had avoided questions by journalists and said he would be releasing a statement later in the day, after his interests were published online by blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia.

In his statement a couple of hours after a PL activity in Zejtun, Mr Schembri said he was in business and built his own group over 20 years of hard work. Over these two decades, his interests have always been fully audited. He also said he owned and had interests in a number of businesses, both locally and abroad.  ‎The group and his family also own real estate.

“After taking up my current job, I stepped down from directorships on my companies and consolidated my structures by opening a family trust both locally and abroad. At the same time, all my companies are being managed by a team of professional executives. I do not get involved in decisions taken by my companies' directors and allow trustees to make decisions at arm’s length about my holdings.  In fact, I am aware, and do not intrude with the fact that my group trades with Nationalist Party-owned companies, and is owed substantial sums by them,” he said.

Mr Schembri said he was informed of the possibility of my local bankers changing their business model or transferring their trusts business to third parties. ‎ “My New Zealand-based trust, together with any attached company, which have not traded so far, was opened as a contingency for this reason upon advice from my financial advisors.‎ I will also be asking a reputed auditing firm, independent of my financial advisors, to audit the New Zealand-based trust and related operations, and will make this report available to the media.”

‎He said he reserved the right to take further legal actions to protect his family's interests‎ and reputation against those who are trying to tarnish them, doing so solely for their political convenience, just as they did prior to the last election.‎ ‎

Questions relating to further clarification on the matter have been sent to Mr Schembri by this newsroom, but as yet, are unanswered.

No threats will stop us - PN

In reply, the PN said that no threat of libel or intimidation will stop it from doing what is in the best interest of the people of Malta and Gozo. The PN said that 16 hours after the allegations against Mr Schembri first surfaced, Mr Schembri confirmed that he owned a “secret company”.  The PN said Mr Schembri made no reference to Panama, and that Keith Schembri admitted that he had been caught, just like Konrad Mizzi.

The PN said Schembri did not say when this company opened, and did not say whether it was opened on the same day as the one opened by Minister Mizzi. The PN also asked whether the company was set up at the time when Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat went on a secret visit to Azerbaijan. It was now up to the Prime Minister to answer for the dealings of two of his closest allies. 

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