The Malta Independent 10 December 2019, Tuesday

Updated: HSBC 2013 documents on Keith Schembri and Malcolm Scerri authentic, not fraudulent

Wednesday, 11 May 2016, 12:59 Last update: about 5 years ago

Following several attempts by The Malta Independent, and other media outlets, to establish whether HSBC 2013 documents found in the Panama Papers, pertaining to the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri and his business associate Malcolm Scerri, are authentic or fraudulent, the bank has finally come out stating that these are authentic. 

Citing an ‘administrative error’ HSBC took full responsibility of the matter, confirming that what Mr. Schembri and Mr. Scerri said on Sunday via their lawyer is true.

The Malta Independent on Sunday followed up a story originally published by journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on her personal blog in which she noted that HSBC documents in her possession, that featured in the Panama Papers, show that such documents were issued in 2013 under the bank’s Attard Branch stationary when the branch had been closed in 2012.

This newsroom followed up the claims with sources within the bank that suggested that the bank couldn’t ignore such an allegation and that it is normal that an internal inquiry would be under way.

Following a story in The Malta Independent on Sunday under the heading ‘HSBC investigation expected into alleged fraudulent documents vouching for Keith Schembri and Malcolm Scerri’ the bank would not reply to questions sent by this newsroom citing ‘customer privacy’ as its main reason.

However, HSBC today issued the following statement vouching for Mr Schembri and Mr Scerri: “HSBC Bank Malta notes the continued interest in whether correspondence from the bank's Attard branch was issued after the branch closed. The bank confirms that certain letters were issued containing the address of Attard branch after its closure due to an administrative error within the bank's correspondence system and templates. HSBC reiterates that it does not comment publicly on individual customer accounts and relationships.”

In the meantime, Mr Schembri and Mr Scerri sued The Malta Independent for libel over its story that an investigation by HSBC was expected. By its statement HSBC confirmed The Malta Independent’s story that an internal investigation was conducted, which ultimately led to the above statement.

HSBC issued a letter to Mr Schembri, which he circulated earlier today, confirming that the 2013 ‘Attard Branch’ documents where authentic and not fraudulent.

This newsroom is now satisfied that in this matter no wrongdoing can be attributed to Mr Keith Schembri and Mr Malcolm Scerri, or their financial consultants Nexia BT. The newsroom acted in good faith and probed the issue until it was finally cleared by HSBC in its statement today.

In a statement issued after the HSBC declaration, Mr Schembri said this confirmed that there is "nothing untoward or suspicious in the bank reference the bank had issued to me in May 2013. 

"It is now all too clear that the whole saga is nothing but one of a very long list of fabrications and lies, in my regard intended solely to harm my reputation and by extension that of the Government. I do not expect better from certain bloggers, but the complicity by certain respected media institutions is unacceptable and a bane to democratic standards and well being of this country."

 

 

 

 

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