Il-bluff ta’ Yorgen

Kemm hu minnu li Yorgen Fenech kien jaf bid-data tal-elezzjoni ġenerali bikrija li Joseph Muscat sejjaħ f’Ġunju 2017 sa minn Diċembru 2016? Din mhiex informazzjoni li għandha naċċettaw mingħajr ma ngħarbluha. Hu faċli, wara li l-fatti jkunu seħħew, li tagħmel dikjarazzjonijiet ta’ din ix-xorta.

Din id-dikjarazzjoni ta’ Yorgen Fenech dwar li kien jaf bid-data tal-elezzjoni bikrija saret waqt l-interrogazzjoni tiegħu u saret pubblika mill-Ispettur Kurt Zahra iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa fil-Qorti. Milli ntqal mhux ċar kemm Zahra ta importanza lil din l-informazzjoni kif ukoll jekk din kienitx korraborata.

Dan il-bluff ta’ Yorgen, fil-fehma tiegħi, għandu skop wieħed u preċiż: li jsaħħaħ l-argument u “joħloq” il-provi li mhux hu kien il-moħħ wara l-assassinju ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Li toqgħod tilgħab b’din l-informazzjoni hu ħafna agħar milli ixxerred il-gideb. Forsi Jason l-avukat jirrealizza dan u jiġbed widnejn Jason il-Membru Parlamentari.

Dan il-bluff ta’ Yorgen jinkwadra f’dak li jaħsbu uħud: li Kastilja kienet involuta fl-ippjanar tal-assassinju ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia. Imma dan hu f’kunflitt ma’ informazzjoni oħra li kisbet l-investigazzjoni permezz tar-recordings ta’ Melvin Theuma: meta Yorgen Fenech, iffaċċjat b’elezzjoni ġenerali bikrija fil-bidu ta’ Mejju 2017 ta’ struzzjonijiet biex l-assassinju jkun sospiż. Sfortunatament uħud għandhom memorja qasira ħafna: illum jinsew dak li jkunu saru jafu fil-ġranet li għaddew!

Minkejja dan, naħseb li għadu kmieni biex naslu għal konklużjonijiet dwar min hu involut, apparti dawk li diġa qed iwieġbu għal għemilhom quddiem il-Qrati. Hu ovvju li Joseph Muscat ser jiċħad bil-qawwa kollha anke l-iktar konnessjoni remota mal-assassinju. M’għandniex nimpressjonaw ruħna għax f’dan l-istadju għadu kmieni u hu prudenti li ma neskludu xejn.

Yorgen kontinwament jitfa biċċiet żgħar ta’ informazzjoni biex iċaqlaq l-attenzjoni għal fuq ħaddieħor. Din il-ġimgħa kompla permezz tax-xhieda ta’ Keith Schembri. Schembri informa lill-Qorti kif sieħbu Yorgen ġieli qallu bil-krib ta’ Adrian Delia tal-PN biex jiffinanzjhom. Ma qal xejn imma dwar kemm ħareġ flus għall-Labour, apparti l-inbid Petrus lil Joseph, għax dak donnu hu ovvju u mistenni li fejn jidħol il-Labour idaħħal idu fil-but. Għaliex le, sakemm ikun fil-limiti ta’ dak permissibli?

Huwa u jwieġeb għall-mistoqsijiet tal-ispettur Keith Arnaud, Keith Schembri rrakkonta dak li qallu sieħbu Yorgen dwar kemm dejqu l-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni Adrian Delia għall-fondi. Il-flus, qal Schembri lill-Qorti, kien jiġborhom Pierre Portelli, sieħeb Delia, €20,000 kull darba. Kif kien mistenni kemm Delia kif ukoll Portelli b’mod immedjat u kategoriku ċaħdu dan kollu. Delia żied jiċħad li qatt talab finanzjament biex jipprova jixkana l-barra lil David Casa mis-siġġu fil-Parlament Ewropew. Dawn, imma, huma allegazzjonijiet li diġa konna smajnihom minn bnadi oħra.

Din hi informazzjoni li hi minnha jew inkellha hi informazzjoni żbaljata li d-duo Keith-Yorgen qed jisqu lill-inkjesta? Dan l-aħħar l-iskwadra tal-Pulizija dwar ir-reati ekonomiċi bħal donnha qamet mir-raqda u bdiet tinvestiga dan l-allegat finanzjament ta’ Delia minn Yorgen. Hu possibli li jkollna konklużjoni dwar x’daħal fis-sasla ta’ Delia malajr u dan minħabba li l-iskwadra dwar ir-reati ekonomiċi issa jidher li ser ikollha x’tagħmel għax ser teżamina xi rapporti li ħalliet jiġbru t-trab fil-passat qrib. Jista’ jkunu okkupati ftit fit-tul b’Konrad Mizzi li tul dan l-aħħar għalqu ftit għajnejhom mhux ħażin dwar dak li qed jingħad li għamel u ħawwad.

Konrad issa tkeċċa mill-Grupp Parlamentari tal-Partit Laburista wara li hu irrifjuta t-talba ta’ Robert Abela biex jirreżenja.

Din ma kienitx l-ewwel darba li fil-Partit Laburista kellhom diskussjoni taħraq dwar Konrad Mizzi. Imma din id-darba ma kienx hemm Joseph Muscat jiddefendieh.

Erba’ snin ilu Joseph Muscat kien irrifjuta li jkeċċi lil Konrad meta kien irriżulta li Konrad kien l-uniku Ministru fl-Unjoni Ewropeja li ssemma fil-Panama Papers. Minn dakinnhar l-iskandli assoċjati miegħu żdiedu biex issa hemm ukoll il-kaz tal-kummissjonijiet li tħallsu fuq it-tanker tal-gass li hemm Delimara, kif ukoll l-istejjer dwar il-kumpanija 17-Black. L-aħħar storja hi dwar l-imtieħen tar-riħ fil-Montenegro li bħala riżultat tagħha is-17-Black selħet madwar €5 miljuni profitti minn fuq dahar l-Enemalta, li għaliha kellu responsabbiltà politika Konrad Mizzi għal żmien twil.

B’dan it-tip ta’ transazzjonijiet il-kumpanija ta’ Yorgen Fenech 17-Black faċilment tilħaq il-miri tagħha biex tkun tista’ titrasferixxi €5000 kuljum fil-kumpaniji li n-Nexia BT waqqfet fil-Panama f’Marzu 2013.

Edward Scicluna, Ministru tal-Finanzi, qalilna li l-Gvern ma għandu l-ebda ħtija għal dan il-ħmieġ. Għandu żball: dawk kollha involuti ngħataw vot ta’ fiduċja wieħed wara l-ieħor. It-tort hu kollu kemm hu tal-Gvern!

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : il-Ħadd 28 ta’ Ġunju 2020

Yorgen’s bluff

Did Yorgen Fenech really know the date of the early election called in June 2017 by Joseph Muscat as far back as December 2016? I would take that information with a pinch of salt.

It is quite easy to bluff your way after the fact. Yorgen Fenech’s declaration on knowing the date for the early election was made to Inspector Kurt Zahra during his interrogation.

It is not clear whether Inspector Kurt Zahra simply noted Yorgen’s bluff or else whether he succeeded in corroborating this with additional information. Yorgen’s bluff, in my view, had a specific purpose: to drive home the point that he was not the mastermind behind the assassination.

Spinning this is at times worse than spreading lies. Maybe Jason the lawyer should caution Jason the MP about this.

Yorgen’s bluff fits like a glove into one of the theories making the rounds: that the OPM was involved in the planning and commissioning of the assassination. However it is in conflict with other bits of information fed into the investigation through the Theuma recordings: the plans in motion for the assassination were suspended by Yorgen as soon as the early election was called in early May 2017.

This signifies that actually he had no prior knowledge! Unfortunately, some have a very short memory span: they tend to forget today what was reported the day before yesterday!

Notwithstanding, it is too early to arrive at conclusions as who is or isn’t involved beyond those already arraigned. It is to be expected that Joseph Muscat categorically denies even the remotest of connections to the assassination.

We should not however be impressed into conclusions either way at such an early stage. I would definitely not exclude anything at this stage.

Yorgen’s dripping titbits of information continued through Keith Schembri’s testimony this week. Schembri recounted how his friend Yorgen described the manner in which he financed the PN. No information is forthcoming as to whether and how he financed the PL: presumably this is taken for granted. Replying to questions fielded by police inspector Keith Arnaud, Keith Schembri recounted how he had been informed by his friend Yorgen Fenech as to funding requests by Adrian Delia, Leader of the Opposition.

Delia’s sidekick, Pierre Portelli, the Court was told, used to collect the monies €20,000 at a time. As expected, Delia and Portelli immediately and categorically denied this. Delia further denied that he had requested funding to squeeze out David Casa from his MEP seat. We have however already heard of these allegations from various other sources. Are they true, or is it just incorrect information being slowly fed into the investigation by the Yorgen-Keith tandem? The Police Economic Crimes Unit has recently done a Rip van Winkle and is investigating the possibility of Yorgen funding Delia’s PN.

It may be possible to have a conclusion on Adrian Delia’s collections quite soon as the Police Economic Crimes Unit may now be in a hurry as they may soon have to recall their Konrad Mizzi archives to act upon reports which they were too busy to examine appropriately in the recent past.

Konrad has now been kicked out of the Parliamentary Group of the Labour Party after refusing to act on Robert Abela’s suggestions to resign. The discussion within Labour earlier this week was not the first with Konrad as the target. This time Joseph Muscat was however not around to defend him. Four years ago, Joseph Muscat had refused to dismiss Konrad Mizzi when it had resulted that Mizzi was the only member of Cabinet within the EU member states to have his name included in the Panama Papers. Since then we have had plenty of additions to the Panama Papers saga. These include commissions paid on the gas tanker anchored at Delimara as well as the 17-Black saga.

The latest addition is the Montenegro windfarm scandal as a result of which 17-Black made a windfall profit of around €5 million at the expense of Enemalta, for which Konrad Mizzi was politically responsible for a considerable length of time. With this type of transaction 17-Black could easily fulfil its objectives of transferring €5000 a day to the Panama companies setup by Nexia BT.

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna has stated that government is not to blame. He is wrong: those in the spotlight were repeatedly given votes of confidence. Government has no one to blame but itself.

 

Published on the Malta Independent on Sunday: 28 June 2020

Il-Partit Laburista hu moralment u politikament fallut

Joseph Muscat u l-Partit Laburista huma moralment u politikament falluti. Ir-responsabbiltà għas-sitwazzjoni kurrenti jrid iġorrha Joseph Muscat kemm bħala Prim Ministru kif ukoll bħala Mexxej tal-Partit Laburista. Għalhekk irreżenja. Imma anke l-Kabinett u t-tmexxija tal-Partit Laburista huma kollettivament responabbli flimkien miegħu.

Ma ħadux passi meta kellhom l-obbligu li jaġixxu, jiġifieri meta kienu ppubblikat l-Panama Papers fl-2016. Dakinhar, il-Prim Ministru messu keċċa kemm lil Konrad Mizzi kif ukoll lil Keith Schembri u sussegwentement kellhom ikunu investigati mill-Pulizija, flimkien mal-merċenerji tan-Nexia BT. Iżda ma ġara xejn minn dan!

Anke l-Partit Laburista f’dak il-mument kellu l-obbligu li jiċċensura lit-tmexxija tal-Partit talli naqas mill-jaġixxi. Minflok ma għamel hekk il-Partit Laburista, b’mod irresponsabbli, ta’ appoġġ inkundizzjonat lit-tmexxija u nhar is-26 ta’ Frar 2016 eleġġa lil Konrad Mizzi b’96.6% tal-voti validi bħala Deputat Mexxej tal-Partit. Dan kollu seħħ jumejn biss wara li kienu ppubblikati l-Panama Papers. Fi ftit ġimgħat imbagħad, kellu jirreżenja bħala riżultat ta’ pressjoni pubblika.

Għaliex jaġixxu b’dan il-mod?

It-tweġiba jagħtihielna l-eks-Ministru Leo Brincat fi kliem li ma jħallix lok għal misinterpretazzjoni. Dan meta kien qed jiġi eżaminat mill-Kumitat tal-Parlament Ewropew dwar il-kontroll tal-Baġit fl-2016 f’konnessjoni man-nomina tiegħu biex ikun jifforma parti mill-Qorti Ewropeja tal-Awdituri.

Meta Leo Brincat kien qed jixhed, kif mistenni, kien mistoqsi dwar il-Panama Papers. Kien ċar meta qal illi kieku kien hu, kien jirreżenja jew tal-inqas jissospendi ruħu sakemm l-affarijiet ikunu ċċarati.

Brincat, imma, qal iktar minn hekk: huwa informa lill-Kumitat Parlamentari li kien hemm mument, li kien qed jikkunsidra jirriżenja minn Ministru minħabba l-mod kif imxew l-affarijiet dwar l-iskandlu tal-Panama Papers f’Malta. Imma, żied jgħid, reġa’ bdielu u ma rriżenjax għax ma kellu l-ebda xewqa li jkun meqjus bħala eroj f’dak il-jum li jirriżenja, imbagħad wara jispiċċa fil-baħħ politiku!

Il-Membri Parlamentari Ewropej, inbagħad iffukaw fuq l-argument ċentrali: jista’ is-Sur Leo Brincat jispjega għaliex meta l-Parlament kellu quddiemu mozzjoni ta’ sfiduċja f’Konrad Mizzi, huwa kien ivvota kontriha u ta l-fiduċja lil Konrad Mizzi? Brincat emfasizza li hu qatt ma seta’ jivvota favur il-mozzjoni ta’ sfiduċja għax kien marbut kif jivvota mil-Whip Parlamentari tal-partit tiegħu!

B’dik it-tweġiba, Leo Brincat kien qed jagħmilha ċara mal-Kumitat Parlamentari tal-Parlament Ewropew għall-Kontroll tal-Baġit li hu kien qed jagħmel għażla fundamentali.

Fil-mument li ġie biex jagħżel bejn il-lealtà lejn il-partit u l-lealtà lejn il-prinċipji tiegħu, il-prinċipji rmiehom il-baħar u għażel il-partit. Fil-mument deċiżiv is-solidarjetà ma’ Konrad Mizzi kellha prijorità fuq l-osservanza tal-prinċipji ta’ governanza tajba. Huwa dan li dejjaq lil numru sostanzjali ta’ membri tal-Parlament Ewropew u wassalhom biex ma jirrakkomandawx il-ħatra ta’ Leo Brincat bħala membru tal-Qorti Ewropeja tal-Awdituri, l-istess kif kienu għamlu ftit qabel bin-nomina ta’ Toni Abela. Id-dikjarazzjoni ta’ Leo Brincat lil Parlament Ewropew tfisser ħaġa waħda: li dak kollu li qal dwar il-governanza tajba ma jiswiex karlin, għax fil-mument tal-prova ċaħdu.

L-istess ħaġa għandu jingħad dwar Evarist Bartolo u l-prietka tiegħu ta’ kull fil-għodu fuq il-media soċjali. Fis-siegħa tal-prova, anke Varist, bħall-bqija tal-grupp Parlamentari (inkluż Chris Fearne, li qiegħed fuq quddiem fit-tellieqa għat-tmexxija tal-Partit) irmew il-prinċipji tagħhom biex jippruvaw isalvaw ġildhom.

Fl-aħħar minn l-aħħar, il-Partit Laburista, bħall-Partit Nazzjonalista qablu, mhux interessat fil-governanza tajba ħlief bħala għalf għal diskors politiku. Għax il-Partit Laburista hu moralment u politikament fallut.

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : il-Ħadd 29 ta’ Diċembru 2019

Labour is morally and politically bankrupt

Joseph Muscat and his Labour Party are morally and politically bankrupt. The responsibility for the current state of affairs rests primarily on Joseph Muscat’s shoulder as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party – hence his resignation.

However, the Cabinet and the Labour Party leadership are, together with Joseph Muscat, also collectively responsible for the ensuing mess.

They failed to act when they should have acted when the Panama Papers were published in 2016. At that point in time Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri should have been fired on the spot by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and thoroughly investigated by the police, together with the mercenaries at Nexia BT. Yet they were not.

At that point in time, the Labour Party was duty bound to censor its leadership for failing to act. Instead of doing so, it irresponsibly shored up the leadership and elected Konrad Mizzi with 96.6 per cent of available votes, endorsing him as Deputy Leader on the 26 February 2016, two days after the Panama Papers saw the light of day. He resigned some weeks later as a result of public pressure.

Why do they act in this way?

The answer was given in crystal clear language by former Labour Minister Leo Brincat when he was being vetted by the European Parliamentary Committee on Budgetary Control in 2016 with reference to his nomination to form part of the European Court of Auditors. I have already written about the matter in my article entitled: Leo Brincat: loyalties and lip service (TMIS 18 September 2016).

When Leo Brincat gave evidence, he was, as anticipated, quizzed regarding the Panama Papers. He made himself crystal clear by saying that he would have submitted his resignation – or else suspended himself from office until such time as matters had been clarified – had he himself been involved.

Brincat further volunteered the information that there had been a point at which he had considered resigning from Ministerial office due to the manner in which the Panama Papers scandal was handled in Malta. He added that eventually, however, his considerations did not materialise and he did not resign as he had no desire to be a “hero for a day and end up in the (political) wilderness” thereafter.

MEPs then focused on the fundamental issue: what about his vote against the motion of No Confidence in Minister Konrad Mizzi which was discussed by Malta’s House of Representatives? Brincat emphasised that he could not vote in favour of the No Confidence motion as he was bound by his Party’s Parliamentary Whip! He emphasised the fact that this was a basic standard of local politics, based on the Westminster model.

As a result of this exchange, Leo Brincat made it clear to the EU Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee that he had made a very important and fundamental choice: he preferred loyalty to the Party whip to loyalty to his principles: those same principles about which he has been harping on for ages. When push came to shove, solidarity with Konrad Mizzi took priority over adherence to the principles of good governance. This is what irked a substantial number of MEPs and prompted them not to recommend the approval of Leo Brincat as a member of the European Court of Auditors as they had done previously when faced with the nomination of Toni Abela. Leo’s declaration means only one thing: that his voluminous statements on good governance are only lip service to which there is no real commitment.

The same goes for Evarist Bartolo’s daily sermon on social media in respect of good governance. When push came to shove even Evarist and the rest of the Labour Party Parliamentary group (including Chris Fearne, current front-runner in the leadership elections), dumped their principles overboard to save their skin.

At the end of the day, the Labour Party – like the Nationalist Party before it – is not interested in good governance except as material for political speeches. Labour is morally and political bankrupt.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 29th December 2019

Pilatu fid-dawl tax-xemx

L-istorja dwar Egrant Inc. ilha sena fl-aħbarijiet. Ilha tinħema 4 snin minn ftit wara l-elezzjoni ġenerali tal-2013 meta twaqqfet flimkien ma kumpaniji oħra.

L-ewwel kellna lil Konrad Mizzi bil-kumpanija tiegħu Hearnville Inc.. Ftit wara Keith Schembri bil-Kumpanija tiegħu Tillgate Inc.. Ħin minnhom daħal fl-istorja Adrian Hillmann tat-Times of Malta ma kumpaniji oħra fil-Panama u fpostijiet oħra. Hillmann kien l-uniku wieħed sissa li irriżenja (jew ġie mġiegħel jirriżenja).

L-istorja, kif bla dubju tiftakru, saret waħda pubblika wara li nkixfu l-Panama Papers. Miljuni ta dokumenti sigrieti dwar diversi kumpaniji imwaqqfa minn persuni pubbliċi u privati madwar id-dinja kollha ma baqawx iktar sigrieti. Inkixfu u tperrċu mal-erbat irjieħ tad-dinja.

Il-qalba tal-problema mhiex il-ħolqien tal-kumpaniji imma l-iskop li għalih dawn jitwaqqfu. Kumpaniji sigrieti, kif għidt fartiklu ieħor ma jinħolqux biex fihom jitfaddlu d-domni jew is-santi. Dawn il-kumpaniji jitwaqqfu biex fihom jinħbew flejjes u assi oħra min għajnejn l-awtoritajiet. Dan il-ħabi jsir għal żewġ raġunijiet : biex ikun evitat il-ħlas tat-taxxi, u/jew biex jinħeba l-frott tal-korruzzjoni.

Iddur kif iddur, il-politiku u dawk ta madwaru qatt ma jistgħu jiġġustifikaw il-ħolqien ta dawn il-kumpaniji. Għax dawn ġeneralment  ifissru involviment fil-korruzzjoni inkella fl-evażjoni tat-taxxa. Għalhekk il-polemika.

Tnejn mill-kumpaniji ilna nafu ta min huma. Ta Konrad Mizzi u ta Keith Schembri. Inkixfu kmieni u kien għadu ma sar l-ebda użu minnhom, skond kif kien intqal dakinnhar. Kienet inkixfet korrispondenza dwar il-possibilitá ta ftuħ ta kontijiet ma diversi banek. Kien hemm diversi tweġibiet kompromettenti li, iżda, Konrad Mizzi u Keith Schembri dejjem ċaħdu li kellhom xjaqsmu magħhom jew inkella li kienu inħarġu fuq struzzjoniiet tagħhom. Ftit kienu twemmnu.

Il-polemika baqgħet għaddejja u l-attenzjoni ċċaqalqet lejn it-tielet kumpanija : Egrant Inc. Ta min kienet din?

Niftakru li imkien fil-Panama Papers ma kien hemm l-iċken informazzjoni dwar is-sid jew is-sidien ta Egrant Inc, għax kien intqal li din l-informazzjoni kienet ser tgħaddi bil-fomm fuq Skype. Il-messaġġ kien ċar, mill-ewwel, li l-probabbiltá kbira kienet li kien hemm xi persuna jew persuni importanti ħafna involuti. Importanti iktar minn Konrad Mizzi u Keith Schembri, jiġifieri.  Ma kienx hemm lok għall-immaġinazzjoni. L-ismijiet possibli kienu limitati ħafna u l-ismijiet probabbli kienu fuq fomm kulħadd!  In-nies ilhom jitkellmu dwarhom!

Nhar il-Ħamis infetaħ kapitlu ieħor. Fuq il-blog tagħha Daphne Caruana Galizia irreferiet għall- dokumenti li skonta qegħdin fis-safe tal-Pilatus Bank u li minnhom jirriżulta li l-kumpanija Egrant Inc hi ta Michelle Muscat u li din il-kumpanija irċeviet diversi flejjes mill-Azerbajġan, l-ikbar waħda minnhom somma ta $1.017 miljun li waslet mingħand bint Aliyev. Mil-livell ta dettall ippubblikat hu ċar li d-dokumenti interni tal-bank huma s-sors tal-istorja. Il-Ġimgħa fil-għaxija ġiet ippubblikata informazzjoni dwar ċertifikat taisħma fliema ċertifikat qed jingħad li l-kumpaniji Dubro Limited S.A. u Aliator S.A. għandhom fidejhom ishma tal-kumpanija Egrant u dan fisem is-Sinjura Michelle Muscat. Imma d-dokumenti infushom li minnhom qed ikun ikkwotat sissa għadhom mhumiex ippubblikati. Ma nafx għaliex.  Hemm bżonn li jinħarġu għad-dawl tax-xemx id-dokumenti kollha li fuqhom hi ibbażata l-istorja. Dan hu neċessarju għax dak li qed jingħad hu ikkontestat.

Għalkemm din l-istorja ilha tinħass ġejja, xorta meta ġiet tinħass iebsa ħafna. Hi ta gravitá kbira u tista tkun dak li  jispjega l-għaliex Konrad Mizzi u Keith Schembri ma tkeċċewx is-sena l-oħra meta ħarġet l-aħbar li kellkom il-kumpaniji sigrieti.

TaPilatus caħdu kollox, bħalma għamlu tan-Nexia BT u ovvjament Joseph u Michelle Muscat.

Bosta huma konvinti mill-veraċitá tal-istorja. Imma li tkun moralment konvint li l-istorja hi korretta mhux biżżejjed. Din l-istorja teħtieġ il-konferma li tiġi mill-provi tad-dokumenti u mhux mid-dimostrazzjonijiet. Għax fuq id-dokumenti hi mibnija. Allura hemm obbligu li dawn id-dokumenti tant bażiċi jaraw id-dawl tax-xemx.

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : 23 t’April 2017

 

 

 

Spotlight on Pilatus Bank

 

The Egrant Inc. story has been in the news for the past year: it has been developing for over the four years since the 2013 general elections, when it was set up together with other companies.

First we had Konrad Mizzi with his company Hearnville Inc. Then we had Keith Schembri with his company, Tillgate Inc. The matter became public when the Panama Papers were disclosed. Millions of hitherto secret documents about companies set up by public and private individuals all around the globe were made public. 

The core of the issue is not the setting up of the companies but the objectives for which they were set up. Secret companies are normally set up for the concealment of financial and other assets in order to avoid the taxman or to conceal the fruits of corruption.

The owners of two of the companies are already known. One of them is Minister Konrad Mizzi while the other is the Prime Ministers Chief of Staff Keith Schembri. Their identity was disclosed over 12 months ago, when it was declared that their Panama companies had not yet been put to use. When the Panama Papers were published it became known that correspondence with several banks had been exchanged relative to the opening of bank accounts for the said companies. Requests and commitments were spotlighted but Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri disclaimed any association with this correspondence and commitments identified.  No one believed them then.

The polemic went on and the focus shifted towards the third company: Egrant Inc. Who was its ultimate beneficial owner?

We should remember that the Panama Papers did not shed any light on the identity of the owner or owners of Egrant Inc. because this information was never communicated in a written manner: it was communicated over Skype. The message conveyed was immediately clear that in all probability some big-head was involved and that he or she was more important than Konrad Mizzi or Keith Schembri.  There was no room for imagination as the possible names were limited in number with the actual names being on the tip of everyones tongue.

On Thursday, a new chapter was opened. Daphne Caruana Galizia, on her blog, referred to documents that she said were in the safe of Pilatus Bank. These documents identified Michelle Muscat as the ultimate beneficial owner of the company Egrant Inc. It was also stated that this company received money transfers from Azerbaijan, including the sum of $1.017 million on the instructions of the daughter of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.  

The level of detail described by Daphne Caruana Galizias blogpost indicates very clearly that this was based on the contents of bank documents. On Friday evening, additional information relating to a certificate of trust was published. This information, the validity of which was contested by Joseph Muscat, states that the company Dubro Limited S.A. and Aliator S.A.  hold shares in the company Egrant Inc. on behalf of Mrs Michelle Muscat.  But the documents from which this information is being extracted are still unpublished.  I do not know why this is so. It is necessary that these documents, fundamental to the issue under consideration, see the light of day. This is essential because the information published is being contested.  

The information published is serious stuff. It may be the reason why Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri were not dismissed from office last year when the Panama Papers were published.

Pilatus Bank, Nexia BT, Joseph and Michelle Muscat have denied the published information.  Many are  convinced on the veracity of the story, but being morally convinced is not sufficient. Proof only results from authentic documentation but certainly not from demonstrations. It is for this reason that the full disclosure of all the documentation on which the published information is based is an essential  prerequisite.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 23 April 2017

Simon Busuttil u l-konkos ta’ Mater Dei

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Dal-għodu, il-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni Simon Busuttil, ġo B’Kara, ikkummenta dwar il-Bord tal-Inkjesta li saret dwar Mater Dei.

Ikkummenta fuq il-fatt li wieħed mill-membri tal-Bord tal-Inkjesta kien Karl Cini, l-istess persuna li f’isem in-Nexia BT kien qed jieħu ħsieb it-twaqqif tal-kumpaniji fil-Panama għal Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri l-Kasco u oħrajn mhux magħrufa, preżentement fl-aħbarijiet.

Bla dubju l-presenza ta’ Karl Cini fuq dak il-Bord tal-Inkjesta jitfa’ dell fuq il-proċess kollu ta’ investigazzjoni dwar l-isptar Mater Dei, ħlief għall-istat tal-konkos. Għax l-istat tal-konkos huwa riżultat ta’ eżami xjentifiku fil-laboratorji mid-ditta Arup u fil-fatt Karl Cini ma kellu xejn x’jaqsam biex ġie stabilit li l-konkos kien dgħajjef.

Tajjeb li l-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni Simon Busuttil jiftakar f’dak li qal kważi sena ilu meta insista li dawk responsabbli għall-konkos dgħajjef għandhom iwieġbu għal għemilhom. Dakinnhar kien staqsa lil min kien qed jiddefendi l-Gvern ta’ Joseph Muscat. Jiġifieri mhux kontestat li l-konkos hu dgħajjef. Pero għadu mhux stabilit ċar min hu direttament responsabbli għal dan.

Tajjeb li niftakru li reċentement in-Nexia BT li f’isimha aġixxa Karl Cini, riċentment ingħataw inkarigu addattat ħafna mill-Gvern. Il-Ministru tat-Turiżmu inkarighom biex jirrappurtaw dwar il-latrini pubbliċi ta’ Malta u Għawdex. Materja li mid-dehra jifhmu sewwa fiha.

Fuq dan il-blog ara ukoll hawn.

L-intenzjonijiet tajba ta’ Konrad

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Konrad Mizzi, l-bieraħ waqt Timestalk għamel pass żgħir il-quddiem: aċċetta li d-deċiżjoni tiegħu (anke jekk fuq parir tal-konsulenti Nexia BT) li jiftaħ kumpanija fil-Panama kienet deċiżjoni ħażina. An error of judgement.

Din id-deċiżjoni ħażina imma, ma tistax tħares lejha b’mod iżolat. Trid inevitabilment taraha f’kuntest iktar wiesgħa li jinkludi taħdidiet dwar negożju mal-iktar Gvern korrott tad-dinja (l-Azerbaijan) minn delegazzjoni tal-Gvern Malti magħmula biss minn politiċi u l-assistenti tagħhom maħtura fuq bażi ta’ fiduċja (position of trust).

Huwa minħabba dan li l-eżistenza tal-kumpaniji ta’ Konrad Mizzi u Keith Schembri qanqlu r-reazzjoni li żviluppat f’dawn il-ġimgħatejn.

Konrad isostni li għamel kollox b’intenzjoni tajba. Imma sfortunatament, anke kieku dan kien minnu, l-ammissjoni ta’ deċiżjoni żbaljat (error of judgement) tfisser li Konrad ma għarafx il-konsegwenzi gravi ta’ din id-deċiżjoni.

Din id-deċiżjoni effettwat il-kredibilità tiegħu, għax diffiċli biex temmen dak li qed jgħid. Għandha effett ukoll fuq il-kredibilità tal-Gvern li tiegħu Konrad hu Ministru ewlieni.

Huwa għalhekk li jiena għidt li l-unika triq li kellu Konrad kienet li minn jeddu jirriżenja. Dan ikun pass kemm fl-interess ta’ Konrad innifsu kif ukoll fl-interess tal-Gvern stess.

Huwa fuq passi bħal dan li tinbena t-tmexxija tajba (good governance). Għax jekk il-politiku mhux kapaċi jerfa’ l-konsegwenzi tad-deċizjonijiet tiegħu, ikun inutli li joqgħod jlablab dwar good governance.