No Portfolio Minister Konrad Mizzi this morning filed a second libel case against blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia. He requested that the case be heard with urgency, the Department of Information said.
The libel was filed in connection with “another false allegation” made by Daphne Caruana Galizia that huge amounts of money were transferred from a company owned by Laeyla Aliyeva, the first daughter of the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, which she described as loan payments.
As Dr Mizzi always declared, and as confirmed by an independent audit carried out by Crowe Horwath, “there never were any bank accounts and no transactions ever took place involving the trust and the company”, the DOI said.
OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri has also filed libel cases against the blogger following other allegations made in connection with a company he opened in Panama. Both Mr Schembri and Dr Mizzi were named in the Panama Papers issued last year by the International Constortium of Investigative Journalists.
In another statement issued later, Dr Mizzi referred to an allegation made by Daphne Caruana Galizia in a blog post today, wherein she alleged that Hearnville Inc holds accounts at Pilatus Bank in Malta and accounts “at a bank in Dubai.”
These most recent allegations made by Caruana Galizia are false and Minister Mizzi, once again, said he rejected the assertions in the strongest terms possible. Minister Mizzi declares unequivocally that Hearnville Inc never held any bank account, either in Malta or elsewhere.
Minister Mizzi reiterated that he requested trustees to commission an independent audit of the New Zealand family trust and of Hearnville Inc. The trustees have engaged Crowe Horwath, one of the largest public audit and accounting firms in the world, and the audit has established that the financial statements of the structure were presented fairly, in all material respects and in accordance with accounting policies. The auditors have confirmed that the evidence they obtained was sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for their audit opinion. This confirmed that the structure is solely intended as a family trust and that no bank accounts were held by the trust and company, Dr Mizzi said.
Daphne Caruana Galizia is again lying outright. She has not provided a shred of evidence in support of her allegations, he added.
Minister Mizzi has already filed libel proceedings against Caruana Galizia in connection with a number of slanderous and unsubstantiated allegations made by the blogger and will continue to pursue legal action to ensure that all untruths are met with full legal sanction.