The Malta Independent 25 September 2022, Sunday
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The weird world of Joseph

Kevin Cassar Sunday, 3 July 2022, 09:46 Last update: about 4 months ago

“Who told you he’s being investigated?”, Joseph Muscat snarled. Reuters had just revealed that 17 Black belonged to Yorgen Fenech. A magisterial inquiry was ongoing. The reporter asked why Keith Schembri hadn’t been sacked, since he was being investigated. “It is not true - the investigation is on 17 Black. Fullstop. Fresh line,” Muscat rebutted, visibly enraged.

Just one year later, Schembri was gone. Facing arrest in connection with Caruana Galizia’s assassination, Schembri jumped ship. Despite his leaking of information to Yorgen Fenech, the Melvin Theuma fake job and his notorious letter to incriminate Chris Cardona, Muscat was still defending his loyal friend. “I thank Keith for the work he has done - I believe he played a crucial role,” Muscat commented. “He enjoys my trust,” Muscat maintained, “he’s been demonised”.

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As Labour’s core clamoured for Keith’s blood, Schembri resigned from the party.  “The truth will eventually emerge for everyone to see, even by those who have already judged me on unfounded allegations,” Schembri wrote.

Deborah Schembri leapt to Keith’s defence. “On what criteria should we expel Keith Schembri? The man is still free.  There are no accusations against him”.

Well now there are. Plenty.

Schembri finally faces court action if he fails to pay 134,000 euro in outstanding taxes. The Tax commissioner filed a judicial letter on 26th May 2022 demanding Schembri settle. Some of those taxes have been due since 2012. For years Schembri was above the law.

Schembri will soon face charges over Theuma’s phantom job after 5 long years. Theuma was getting paid for doing nothing - literally. It was Yorgen Fenech who informed Theuma that the OPM Customer care head Sandro Craus would call him. After Schembri gave Theuma a tour of Castille, he was directed by Craus to Palazzo Ferreira.  There Anthony Muscat, the CEO of a government company, conducted a sham interview and appointed Theuma on the spot. Muscat accused Schembri of pressuring him to appoint Theuma.

In March 2021, Schembri was charged with money laundering, fraud, forgery and criminal conspiracy.  5.5million dollars in backhanders were allegedly paid to business partner Malcolm Scerri and two Allied Newspapers directors - Adrian Hillman and Vince Buhagiar. By 4th April Schembri was out on bail.

On 23rd April 2021, Schembri was awarded financial compensation for moral damages for breach of his right to peaceful enjoyment of property after his assets were frozen over the passport money laundering case with Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna.

Investigations into Schembri’s role in the Caruana Galizia murder are still ongoing.  The Magisterial inquiry into the Panama papers saga has not concluded. The Magisterial inquiry on the Vitals hospitals concession is still underway.  The NAO’s addendum to the July 2021 report showed that Schembri was deeply involved in the secret MOU signed in 2014 with the original concessionaires, months before the request for proposals.

Years dragged on. Apart from the odd arrest, the odd court action, the token threat from the Tax Commissioner and the never ending magisterial inquiries, nothing’s really changed - for Keith. He’s still free, as Deborah Schembri put it. He’s still running his businesses.  And he’s opened more.  Just 3 days after Muscat resigned, Schembri opened another company - Navis Logistics.  Its directors are Schembri, his business partner Malcolm Scerri and Schembri’s poor father, Alfio - coerced into signing documents he didn’t know the content of and who received a salary which he passed to his son.

We don’t have much faith in the justice system. We’re not expecting any conviction or imprisonment anytime soon. We know that at the AG’s whim Schembri could be let off with another of her “mistakes”. Or the prosecution could put in the wrong date or time, and that will be it. And even if no help is forthcoming from the AG or prosecution, his lawyers are handsomely paid to get him out of trouble. Their resources simply outclass the meagre prosecution’s. So Keith will continue with his businesses, probably open a few more, will continue to evade his taxes and live the life. We’ll still have Deborah reminding us he’s not been convicted.

Yet even without convictions, without any sentence, more of the truth is slowly emerging allowing us to appreciate the filthy reality of Castille. Here was a man so deeply corrupt, so ruthless in his pursuit of personal gain, so devoid of any limits that he demolished every norm and rule in his rampage. Schembri rightly believed he was above the law. His taxes were not pursued, his documented money laundering was ignored, his 17-Black links were irrelevant, his association with Yorgen Fenech overlooked.

Schembri’s power to cause mayhem came from one man - Joseph Muscat. Muscat’s choice was not down to poor judgement.  Muscat picked Schembri with a reason. “Muscat knew everything,” Schembri pointed out. That’s why Muscat stood by him till the end, even when all cabinet implored him to ditch Schembri.

Schembri was not elected.  He had no power. That power was vested in him by Muscat. The wrecks that are Electrogas, Vitals, SOCAR are not Schembri’s wrecks. They are Muscat’s.

Instead of acknowledging his malignancy, apologising to the nation and fading into oblivion, thankful for his immunity, he has now manipulated himself to head the Malta Professional Football Club Association. In his first reaction, Muscat outlined his top priority: “to generate more business and independent income”. Next thing he’ll be renting them out his own car for his private use.

This is the weird world of Joseph. Justice will never reach you if you have the links, the money or preferably both. That this is happening under Labour beggars belief. Stuffed with lawyers, Labour’s legacy should have been built on the noble principle of how the law must never be a privilege for the rich and powerful. Instead it’s been built on the trampling of the rule of law, the neutering of institutions and guaranteed impunity for Keith and Joseph.

The rest of us are left with one consolation. We can weigh the evidence for ourselves. We can pass judgement unshackled by technicalities and legal restrictions. We know a good man when we see one. And we sure can smell a crook.

 

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