The Malta Independent 3 June 2020, Wednesday

SwissLeaks: The scale of it has taken all by surprise

Monday, 9 March 2015, 08:08 Last update: about 6 years ago

The sheer scale of the figures in the tax avoidance case exposed by this newspaper’s sister publication yesterday seems to have left Malta’s political system reeling.

Both the government and the opposition leader addressed the issue, but it was touched with temerity and hesitance.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addressed a labour activity in the morning, and although he spoke about the Swiss Leaks in general, he did not mention the specifics of the Ninu Zammit case.

Approached for comments after the activity, the Prime Minister steered clear away and opted not to give any.

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil later addressed the PN’s General Council and called on the Prime Minister to take responsibility for issuing an amnesty which Ninu Zammit benefitted from to repatriate funds to Malta which had been deposited in the British Virgin Islands when Malta joined the European Union. But even there, although Dr Busuttil said he had suspended Mr Zammit and former Minister Michael Falzon, he did not say much at all. One would have expected more from Dr Busuttil on the issue. He said that he took an immediate decision and had already warned that there was no place in the PN for anyone caught evading tax. He had his bases covered. So why then, not push further?

The government issued a statement later in the day, which was focused on countering the opposition’s challenge, rather than tackling the information which was made available today.

The government is absolutely correct in saying that the amnesty scheme was identical to four offered by the previous administration. It is also correct in saying that it ordered an investigation immediately after the names were made public.

But it is clear that the Prime Minister was taken aback by the sheer scale of what has been going on. In his own style, he will take a step back before considering his next move. In the meantime, Alternattiva Demokratika has joined the fray and has called for an investigation into the system. It was perhaps the most sensible thought of the day.

It is clear that Malta has entered a new political era. Politicians and those running the country are under more and more scrutiny and they are being held more accountable than ever before.

No doubt, a new week will bring a new political push as the local council election kicks off. Any hopes that it will build up a sensible and steady head of steam are already dashed as the strategy teams will be banging heads together to see how this latest political development can be treated and used to the advantage of the party concerned.

And that is where the problem lies. As this publishing house has already stated, the only real question that needs to be answered in all of this is by Mr Zammit himself. Where did he get 3.2 million US dollars and why did he never declare them?

 

 

 

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