The Malta Independent 29 May 2024, Wednesday
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Watch: Calls for Konrad Mizzi resignation in stormy PL parliamentary group meeting

Neil Camilleri Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 09:31 Last update: about 9 years ago

Embattled Health and Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi was told that he should resign by a fellow cabinet member during a stormy meeting of the PL Parliamentary Group which was held yesterday afternoon, this newspaper is reliably informed.

Konrad Mizzi, along with OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri, has been under fire ever since it was revealed that he owns a Panamanian company which is administered by a New Zealand trust. Both men have ignored calls for their resignation.

The pressure built up on Sunday after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published a massive leak of documents dubbed Panama Papers. The documents, leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack-Fonseca - expose the offshore holdings of 12 current and former world leaders.

They show how a global industry of law firms and big banks sells financial secrecy to politicians, fraudsters and drug traffickers as well as billionaires, celebrities and sports stars. Mossack Fonseca has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade tax. Konrad Mizzi’s name features in the list, although the ICIJ says the documents do not necessarily indicate criminal activity.

Sources close to the parliamentary group said Education Minister Evarist Bartolo, who has recently hinted his disapproval on Mizzi’s Panama dealings, told the Minister flatly that the only way was out. This paper understands that a number of other cabinet members backed Evarist Bartolo’s calls for Mizzi’s resignation. These included Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech and Environment Minister Leo Brincat.

The sources say the meeting was ‘highly animated’ and differing views were shared. In the end it was decided that Mizzi should not resign.

The Malta Independent confronted the Education Minister with the revelation yesterday evening, as he made his way into the Parliament building. Asked if it was true that he had called for Mr Mizzi’s resignation, Mr Bartolo first clarified that the meeting was held in the afternoon, not in the morning.

Pressed to confirm his resignation call, Mr Bartolo said he could not divulge what was said in the parliamentary group. When asked if he would have resigned if he was in Mizzi’s shoes, Mr Bartolo said he “had already made his feelings known.”

Bartolo’s hints

Mr Bartolo has recently hinted in a number of Facebook posts that he was not happy with the way the government was approaching the Panamagate sage. A few weeks ago he posted a quote saying that, “in situations like this I recall an article written in May 1929 by former PL deputy leader Guze Ellul Mercer. The title of this article was, ‘Why I militate in the Workers Party’, and in it Ellul Mercer writes that: “I am in the Workers’ Party because this party is not built on the weak foundations of its leader’s skills but on a higher ideal – the belief that who is born human, should live as human, work as human and eat as human, irrespective of whether he is born to a rich or poor family.”

Then, shortly after the PN organized a ‘national’ protest against corruption, Mr Bartolo took to Facebook again and wrote: “When a storm hits see how you protect yourself. Do not fool yourself and blame the barometer or tamper with it so as to believe that the weather is fine.”

The Malta Independent on Sunday recently reported that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is facing his first internal conflict since he became leader.  Sources in the PL told this newsroom that they had complained with the Prime Minister and with other Ministers about the recent Panamagate events involving Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri and were pressuring the PM not to accept such a situation. Government Parliamentary Whip Dr Godfrey Farrugia had also confirmed with this newsroom that a number of MPs had expressed their concern.



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