The Malta Independent 17 December 2018, Monday

Indepth: PM’s handling of 17 Black revelations shows ‘consistency’ in his decision-making – Ian Borg

INDEPTH online Friday, 16 November 2018, 07:57 Last update: about 24 days ago

PN ‘certain’ in its approach to 17 Black - David Stellini

Transport Minister Ian Borg has said that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's handling of the latest 17 Black revelations shows that he is "consistent" in dealing with such issues involving government ministers.

Asked on the latest episode of Indepth whether Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and the prime minister's chief of staff Keith Schembri should, at the very least, be suspended until the outcome of the magisterial inquiries into their Panamanian accounts, Borg told The Malta Independent's editor-in-chief Rachel Attard that "the people know that the country is being led by a prime minister who has no qualms about taking action when inquiries find the basis for it" - a reference to when Muscat had asked former Ministers Manuel Mallia and Michael Falzon to resign over separate issues.

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Addressing Borg, however, Attard pointed out that there was no such inquiry into the Panama Papers as it was being blocked by seven people, including the

Prime Minister, Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi themselves, and that as a result the government couldn't really hide behind it.

Borg replied saying that those seven people were only exercising their legal rights as they saw fit, and noted that PN MP and former leader Simon Busuttil had "elongated" the process further "because he didn't like the Judge hearing the case".

David Stellini, a PN MP and guest on the programme, meanwhile, when asked whether the PN had to be more cautious in how it handles these revelations and calls for action, especially given how the situation pertaining to the Egrant case had panned out, said that these new revelations were different from those on Egrant in that they were facts not allegations.  He added that the PN was certain in the approach that it is currently taking as a party to these revelations.

Stellini said that there were three facts in this specific case: firstly, that both Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri opened accounts in Panama the day after Labour was elected to government; secondly, that Nexia BT in an email which has since been leaked said that these companies would be receiving €150,000 a month from 17 Black; and now, thirdly, that 17 Black is owned by a director of the power station which was built under the stewardship of Konrad Mizzi.

In light of these facts, Stellini said, this was a situation where there had to be a sense of decency and political responsibility had to be taken.

Questioned on why, given the current approach that the PN was taking, Adrian Delia himself had not suspended himself in the face of serious allegations put forward against him by Daphne Caruana Galizia, Stellini said that the suspension was not necessary because those were simply allegations.  "These new revelations are facts however", Stellini added.

It should be noted that the Malta Independent requested the two major political parties to send their own representative to appear on the programme, as opposed to approaching the two guests personally.  Had that been the case, the Malta Independent would have certainly approached Konrad Mizzi, who is unfortunately currently escaping the independent media, to attend.

Asked whether he agreed with Mizzi's continued avoidance of the independent media through his decision not to invite these media houses to events, Borg simply said that the question had to be posed to Mizzi himself before adding that he himself had always invited all media houses to his ministry's events.

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