The Malta Independent 21 May 2019, Tuesday

Panama Papers inquiry request: No appeal possible, other avenues being explored – Busuttil’s lawyer

Kevin Schembri Orland Thursday, 10 January 2019, 09:34 Last update: about 5 months ago

There is no possible appeal from Tuesday’s judgement regarding the appeal decision to overturn an order for an inquiry related to the Panama Papers as requested by MP and former Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil, his lawyer told this newsroom.

There is no possible Constitutional case, and no EU court case possibility his lawyer, MP Jason Azzopardi said. He did say however, without giving details, that they are still exploring other possible avenues.

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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.

Mr Justice Giovanni Grixti took the case, and the appeal overturned the inquiry order.

On Tuesday, the Criminal court said 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. Busuttil had asked the courts to launch a magisterial inquiry into the Panama Papers revelations.

As a result of the ruling, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi has withdrawn a constitutional case claiming breach of rights.

Political responsibility has to be shouldered

In comments to this newspaper, a spokesperson for the PN said the party has taken note of the court’s decision but still feels that there is a political responsibility that has to be shouldered.

“Both Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi had admitted to owning secret companies in Panama and, through Nexia BT had said that they planned to receive €5,000 a day from the mysterious Dubai company 17 Black.

“Later we found out that the owner of 17 Black is the chief executive of a company that forms part of the Electrogas consortium, which was chosen by the government to build and operate a new power station at Delimara.

“The Nationalist Party is determined to continue fighting corruption while seeing that the institutions are not taken over by the government, with full respect to the rule of law,” the spokesperson said.

In reaction to the ruling, the Labour Party laid into Busuttil, saying, “Former Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil said it is ‘unbelievable’ that the courts of law ruled against him, but what is ‘unbelievable’ is his attitude towards the courts each time they rule against him.”

 

 

 

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