The Malta Independent 22 May 2019, Wednesday

Biggest damage being caused by Opposition, PS says, as he avoids questions on 17 Black

Albert Galea Wednesday, 14 November 2018, 17:28 Last update: about 7 months ago

‘The biggest damage that I can speak of to the country is that which is done by the opposition who go speaking to foreign media against Malta’, Silvio Schembri said in Parliament on Wednesday when asked whether he could quantify the damage done to Malta’s reputation and to the reputation of the country by the recent 17 Black revelations.

Asked numerous times by PN MPs Simon Busuttil and Jason Azzopardi whether last week’s revelations regarding the owner of 17 Black had damaged Malta’s reputation and the reputation of its financial sector, and whether the only logical consequence should be the removal of Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, Silvio Schembri skirted around the question, instead saying that he had full faith in the Prime Minister and that he simply did not believe anything that Simon Busuttil said.


“Like the absolute majority of the Maltese people, we have absolute faith in the Prime Minister; faith which was confirmed in the last general election – a general election which was called after the breaking of a scandal which is the biggest lie in Malta’s political history”, Schembri said when asked about 17 Black.

Schembri reiterated that the biggest damage to the country had been done by the opposition dirtying the country’s name with media houses abroad, and continued that he could not recall a single instance of when Jason Azzopardi and Simon Busuttil had spoken overseas to defend the country on allegations which were made against it.

He noted that credit ratings agencies had long published positive reports on Malta and its financial services, and made reference to an EFSA report which, “even though the Opposition had prayed for a negative outcome”, showed the proactive nature of how the Maltese financial sector works.

Reacting to a remark by Busuttil that he was living in denial, Schembri noted ironically that such a remark was coming from a person who says that his political party is united.

“The answer is given by itself; the dirt and damage being done can be calculated when the Opposition starts seeing the interests of Malta first”, Schembri concluded.

It was recently uncovered that director and CEO of the Tumas Group Yorgen Fenech, who is a director and shareholder in the Electrogas consortium, is the owner of 17 Black. Electrogas runs the gas power station.

17 Black was listed as the 'Main Client' and 'Possible Payer/Sender' of Tillgate and Hearnville, the offshore Panamanian companies owned by OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, leaked emails obtained by German paper Süddeutsche Zeitung, and published by the Daphne Project, showed. In reaction to the news story, Schembri had said that 17 Black never became clients of his business group.  Mizzi had also said that there is no connection, direct or otherwise, between him, his company or trust, and any entity called 17 Black.

The Electrogas consortium is made up of Siemens, SOCAR (an Azerbaijan state-owned company), and a collection of Maltese investors known as GEM Holdings, of which Tumas Holdings forms part.

Silvio Schembri is the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for financial services, digital economy and innovated.  His parliamentary secretariat falls under the remit of the Office of the Prime Minister.


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