The Malta Independent 21 May 2019, Tuesday

Court throws out order for Panama Papers investigation

Tuesday, 8 January 2019, 17:43 Last update: about 5 months ago

The Criminal Court has thrown out an order by a Magistrate for an inquiry to be launched into Panama Papers revelations, arguing that the level of detail in Simon Busuttil's claims did not satisfy the requirements at law for such an inquiry to begin.

The court found that Busuttil did not, in his application, indicate in detail the facts of the crimes he alleged took place, and only made allegations.

Former Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil had asked the courts to launch a magisterial inquiry into the Panama Papers revelations. After the magistrate's decision to open an inquiry into whether money-laundering laws had been breached by high-ranking members of government when they opened Panamanian companies and New Zealand trusts, as revealed by the Panama Papers, the seven individuals that the inquiry application had mentioned (Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his chief of staff Keith Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, as well as Brian Tonna, Karl Cini, Malcolm Scerri and Adrian Hillman ) filed an application for Magistrate Ian Farrugia's decision to be revoked.

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The appeal was originally before Judge Antonio Mizzi, which had stirred quite a controversy. It passed to Mr Justice Giovanni Grixti after Mizzi retired.

Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi this evening tweeted: "Criminal Court dismisses Simon Busuttil's Panama Papers accusations against me and others as nothing but speculation. Justice saw through two years of defamation and unnecessary delays by PN malta's failed politician."

Minister Mizzi, as well as OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri had been found to have acquired companies in the secretive jurisdiction of Panama, and then placed them in Trusts based in New Zealand. Nexia BT had helped acquire the companies and, through emails with Mossack Fonseca, enquiries were made about the possibility of opening bank accounts. However both men state that no accounts were ever opened. Emails had also show the infamous 17 Black listed as a target client for the aforementioned two companies. Schembri had said that 17 Black never became clients of his business group. Mizzi had said that there is no connection, direct or otherwise, between him, his company or trust, and any entity called 17 Black. 

PN MP and former Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil tweeted the following: "Unbelievable. How can a Court refuse to open an inquiry when Mizzi and Schembri were caught RED-HANDED with a secret Panama company to pocket €5,000 a day? This cannot be right. Where can we go for justice to be served in Malta?"

The Government of Malta, in a statement, argued that the court's conclusion described Busuttil's allegation as purely speculative, and that there weren't even the ingredients present for an inquiry in genere.


 

 

 


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