The Malta Independent 27 November 2021, Saturday

Watch: Keith Schembri will not resign; government will wait for outcome of 17 Black inquiry – PM

Albert Galea Tuesday, 30 April 2019, 11:13 Last update: about 4 years ago

The Chief of Staff of the Office of the Prime Minister Keith Schembri will not resign after a decision by Magistrate Doreen Clarke to widen the scope of investigations to include evidence relating to the Panama Papers, and the government will wait for the outcome of the 17 Black inquiry being led by Magistrate Charmaine Galea, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told The Malta Independent todayday.

In a press conference in 2017, Muscat had said “if the new magistrate finds that there is room for a criminal investigation to be opened on Keith Schembri, then Schembri will take responsibility and resign.”

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Magistrate Doreen Clarke yesterday "accepted a request" made for an inquiry into OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi following their being named in the Panama Papers.

But the government, in reply, said that the magistrate had ruled that no new inquiry should take place but that an additional note should be made in the existing inquiry so that no duplication of procedures takes place.

The government said that, in her ruling, the magistrate said that there should be no new inquiry but that Magistrate Charmaine Galea, who is already conducting an investigation, should consider what Busuttil is arguing as part of the inquiry. Magistrate Galea is responsible for the inquiry into the once-secret Dubai-based company 17 Black. 

Asked whether, given his statement back then and given the decision of Magistrate Clarke yesterday, Schembri would be resigning, Muscat said that Magistrate Clarke had merely said that note of the evidence presented should be made in the procedure that is ongoing, and so the government will wait for what Magistrate Galea decides.

 Asked for his reaction to Magistrate Clarke’s decision, Muscat said that if anything it proves that investigations were always ongoing and that there was no form of whitewashing taking place. 

“For me, what Magistrate Clarke said is a continuation of what other Judges said before; in that Simon Busuttil should not keep trying to do some sort of forum shopping”, Muscat said.

He noted that there are investigations and procedures ongoing and once they are concluded then we will see who is saying the truth and who is not, noting that he welcomed such investigations as it shows that the supposition that these things were not being previously considered was incorrect.

Muscat said that Magistrate Clarke had said that there are major overlaps and that there are ongoing procedures on the evidence that was presented and so a note should be made in another file. 

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