Konrad Mizzi to be called be­fore EU Par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­gat­ing Panama Pa­pers

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE -

Malta’s Min­is­ter with­out a port­fo­lio Konrad Mizzi will be among the first to be called be­fore the Pana com­mit­tee, deal­ing with the Panama Pa­pers scan­dal, chair­man of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment’s Com­mit­tee Werner Lan­gen said in a press con­fer­ence.

“I’m as­sum­ing we will be invit­ing ac­tive mem­bers of gov­ern­ments, with the en­ergy min­is­ter from Malta is one pos­si­ble min­is­ter, with other EU min­is­ters as well.”

The Chair­man also con­firmed that the list of those to be in­ter­viewed has not yet been fi­nalised.

The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment’s Panama Com­mit­tee of In­quiry met yes­ter­day in Brus­sels. MEPs heard a pre­sen­ta­tion from the in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ists that form part of the In­ter­na­tional Con­sor­tium for In­ves­tiga­tive Journalism.

To­gether with the Prime Min­is­ter’s chief of staff Keith Schem­bri, Dr Mizzi was found to have opened a se­cret com­pany in the tax haven of Panama associated with an­other fi­nan­cial ve­hi­cle in New Zealand.

The fi­nan­cial ar­range­ments were han­dled by Nexia BT, which has also acted as the au­dit­ing firm of Kasco Group – Mr Schem­bri’s per­sonal busi­ness op­er­a­tions. Nexia BT and other sub­sidiaries have also been given lu­cra­tive con­sul­tancy con­tracts by the Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter and the En­ergy Min­istry in the last three years.

Ear­lier this year, the In­ter­na­tional Con­sor­tium for In­ves­tiga­tive Journalism dis­cov­ered that Min­is­ter Konrad Mizzi has a com­pany in the se­cre­tive ju­ris­dic­tion of Panama, an is­sue which em­broiled the min­is­ter into the heart of a con­tro­versy.

He had his en­ergy and health port­fo­lios re­moved by the Prime Min­is­ter, how­ever he still deals with many en­ergy-re­lated mat­ters.

The Head of the PN Del­e­ga­tion in Euro­pean Par­lia­ment David Casa MEP who is a full mem­ber of the com­mit­tee and present for the ex­changes stated: “To­day we heard from the jour­nal­ists them­selves about the way they con­ducted their work and the rel­e­vance of the in­for­ma­tion that was re­leased. This was fol­lowed by a dis­cus­sion of Com­mit­tee mem­bers con­cern­ing how we would like to fo­cus our work. It is clear that the Com­mit­tee will ad­dress two main is­sues – that re­gard­ing tax­a­tion – but also and in my view more cru­cially the is­sue of cor­rup­tion and money laun­der­ing.”

MEP Roberta Met­sola who is also a full mem­ber of the com­mit­tee said: “We saw to­day that the Com­mit­tee would look at how to im­prove the pro­tec­tion of whistle­blow­ers and will emerge with pro­pos­als how to fa­cil­i­tate trans­parency and fight tax eva­sion and cor­rup­tion. Over the next year, the Com­mit­tee will con­tinue to meet to dis­cuss how the EU can move for­ward on this is­sue. It is clear that this scan­dal will not go away and I hope that mem­ber states and any wit­nesses who may be called co­op­er­ate fully with the Com­mit­tee’s line of in­quiry.”

The com­mit­tee has a one-year man­date which ex­pires on 8 June, 2017. The man­date can be pro­longed twice by three months.

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