The Malta Independent 21 April 2019, Sunday

Watch: MEP delegation in Malta; AG and Pilatus Bank speak of 'positive' meetings

Kevin Schembri Orland Thursday, 30 November 2017, 09:36 Last update: about 2 years ago

MEPs from the PANA and LIBE committees of the European Parliament are in Malta holding meetings with various top officials, following a rule of law debate held in the European Parliament.

At 9am, the delegation started their day by meeting Attorney General Peter Grech and various FIAU officials. 

The PANA committee was set up to investigate money laundering, tax evasion and tax avoidance issues following the Panama Papers revelations, while the LIBE committee is responsible for civil liberties, justice and home affairs.

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After the meeting, the Attorney General Peter Grech said he had no difficulty meeting the MEPs. "I explained that I perform my duty according to law and in the interest of the Maltese public, according to the Maltese constitution. I think it was a positive meeting, at least an occasion for me to explain the legal position".

Asked if they asked him about the lack of follow-ups to the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit reports he said "I don't think I can enter into political controversy. My role as the occupier of a constitutional office prevents me from doing that. I have to act with integrity as I have done for the past 34 years in the interest of all Maltese society".

The AG then started walking away as he was asked why he chose not to investigate. 

FIAU officials, including Director Kenneth Farrugia, did not provide any comments on their way out of the meeting.

Former FIAU investigator Jonathan Ferris was also reluctant to give information on this matter. When he was asked what the main thrust of the discussion was, Jonathan Ferris’s lawyer Jason Azzopardi stepped in and said “what had to be said was said in the remit of the law and he cannot give any further comments.” He did answer questions on other issues.

The delegation then made its way to the police headquarters in Floriana, where they met with Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar and other top police officials. This newsroom asked an MEP if they are able to comment at this stage, however he said comments will be given tomorrow, after the meetings conclude.

Tonight, the delegation also meet Pilatus Bank. After a meeting that lasted an hour, Pilatus Bank CEO Hamidreza Ghanbari and Chief Operating Officer Louis Felipe Rivera emerged from the meeting.

Ghanbari said: "We had a very substantive and positive meeting with the members of the European Parliament and it was the first time that we were given the opportunity to present them with the facts and we remain keen to have an open dialogue with the other stakeholders."

When asked on allegations of Prime Minister's wife Michelle Muscat having an account with Pilatus Bank, Rivera said he "denies" the allegations, whilst the representatives from Pilatus Bank then told the press to forward questions to their media department.

Members of civil society including Andrew Borg Cardona, Manuel Delia, Occupy Justice, members of the UHM and others also met with the MEPs. however they did not give comments to the press. Borg Cardona, while exiting, said that "if it had been open to the press they would have invited you in ah. It was very detailed that I can tell you."

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