The Malta Independent 22 August 2019, Thursday

I was convinced Mizzi and Schembri would be jailed after Panama Papers – Matthew Caruana Galizia

Monday, 11 February 2019, 21:32 Last update: about 7 months ago

Matthew Caruana Galizia, the son of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia told a European Parliament committee on Monday that he had had been convinced that Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi would be jailed the day after the Panama Papers revelations came out.

Caruana Galizia was addressing the EP’s financial crimes committee, known as Tax3.

“Our investigations need to have repercussions,” he told MEP Roberta Metsola. “If this does not happen it will remain easy to kill the journalists carrying out the investigations. After the Panama Papers revelations, I was convinced that Mizzi and Schembri would go straight to jail the following day. I honestly believed this. They were not only not jailed, but they are in government. One has the second highest post in the executive and the other one controls all of Malta’s privatisation.”

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The Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff and former Tourism Minister were revealed as having set up companies in the secretive jurisdiction of Panama.

“There is a systemic failure not only because of how our justice system is set up but also because the system has been corrupted so extensively. The attitude of some police officers is to always do the bare minimum. What we need to have is a supranational judicial authority,” Matthew Caruana Galizia told MEPs.

Earlier, he called for the establishment of a European police force to investigate Azerbaijani corruption, not just in Malta but in the whole of Europe. He said that this level of corruption cannot be tackled by a single member state, certainly not by Malta. He said scandals that have hit Europe are all linked to the same crime network, which can only be taken down through a concerted effort.

He said Europol worked more like a “call centre,” adding that the EU needed a police authority with judicial powers.

“My appeal to you is to continue eating the elephant of this corruption one bite at a time.”

Matthew Caruana Galizia gave a detailed account of how Electrogas was awarded the power station tender by a committee chaired by Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna. He said the tender process was widely perceived as being corrupt.

He also said the Azeri state-owned oil company Socar was acting as an “unnecessary middleman,” pocketing some €40 million from every transaction for doing absolutely nothing.

He spoke about 17 Black, a company owned by Electrogas director Yorgen Fenech, which was set up to pay kickbacks to Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.

Caruana Galizia said he had helped his mother pore over hundreds of leaked emails and documents, provided by a whistleblower, and which pointed to “criminal violations committed by the shareholders.”

Yorgen Fenech, he said, had no prior experience in the energy sector and “owns the three casinos where the men who murdered my mother gambled away over half a million euros.”

Caruana Galizia said the inquiring magistrate had had trouble getting data necessary to continue with the inquiry because of the Malta Security Service, which falls under direct control of the Office of the Prime Minister.

He also spoke about crippling libel cases, explaining that in Malta the onus of proof lies solely with the defendant. “They know that we cannot present our key witness, who is my mother, so they will win by default.”

Caruana Galizia said one of Justice Minister Owen Bonnici’s political donors had filed 19 libel cases against his mother. “She would have had to leave her job and lose everything to dedicate the time to fight all these libel cases. This is done to punish journalists. The minister will never condemn this person because he is one of his political donors.”

Caruana Galizia spoke after Reuters journalist Stephen Grey, who spoke about institutional failure in Malta. Grey said many questions remained unanswered and only a proper investigation would answer them.

Earlier, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici said the government was committed to a continuous process of reform and would maintain an open dialogue with the European Commission and other institutions.

Bonnici hit back at concerns about money-laundering and tax evasion, saying that €12.5 million have been recovered through the Inland Revenue Department’s Swiss Leaks investigations and €5 million euro from its Panama Papers investigations.

The department also recovered a further €4 million euro in penalties.

Replying to questions by Portuguese MEP Ana Gomes about Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi, Bonnici said two inquiries had found that there were no grounds to proceed against them.

The Justice Minister said the government would continue to seek the mastermind behind Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.

Asked if he was saying that there were no problems in Malta, with an MEP mentioning the fact that people under investigation can still be awarded government contracts, the minister said that he believed in Malta’s institutions, which are being strengthened.

PN MEP David Casa said not a single institution in Malta was investigating the 17 Black revelations. 

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