Kon­rad Mizzi re­fuses to name au­dit com­pany in court

● PM avoids jour­nal­ists for the sec­ond day

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - ■ Neil Camil­leri and Gabriel Schem­bri

Min­is­ter Kon­rad Mizzi yes­ter­day re­fused to name the in­ter­na­tional com­pany that is car­ry­ing out an au­dit into his Pana­ma­nian com­pany and New Zealand trust, in­sist­ing that ques­tions should be put to the Prime Min­is­ter.

Mr Mizzi was tes­ti­fy­ing in a li­bel case he has in­sti­tuted against PN Deputy Leader Beppe Fenech Adami.

Dr Fenech Adami’s lawyer, Dr Joe Zam­mit Maem­pel, asked Dr Mizzi who the com­pany car­ry­ing out the in­de­pen­dent au­dit was. Dr Mizzi re­fused to name the com­pany, telling the lawyer that he should ask the Prime Min­is­ter.

But the Prime Min­is­ter who was tak­ing part in an event just a few blocks away from the Law Courts slipped out of the Aula Magna be­fore he could be ques­tioned by jour­nal­ists. This was the sec­ond day run­ning that Dr Mus­cat had avoided re­ply­ing to ques­tions.

Dr Mizzi told the Court he did not wish to name the com­pany be­cause he did not want to put it un­der any un­due pres­sure.

Dr Zam­mit Maem­pel said he would not put any pres­sure on the com­pany and said he wanted to know the name sim­ply to as­cer­tain that an au­dit was truly tak­ing place.

Re­ply­ing to ques­tions, Dr Mizzi said his com­pany and trust had now been reg­is­tered in Malta.

He pointed out that he had listed his Panama com­pany and New Zealand trust in his dec­la­ra­tion of as­sets.

Asked if he had been fined for not reg­is­ter­ing the trust with the Mal­tese tax au­thor­i­ties, Dr Mizzi said he was in­formed “much later” that the trust had to be reg­is­tered.

He had not gone into such de­tails with his fi­nan­cial ad­vis­ers – Nexia BT – and there was not even an on­line form to reg­is­ter a trust.

Dr Mizzi, along with OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schem­bri, has filed sev­eral li­bel pro­ceed­ings af­ter their names were re­vealed in the Panama Pa­pers leak.

The for­mer PL Deputy Leader had ap­pointed an in­de­pen­dent in­quiry more than six months ago. Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat said when asked last week that such au­dits took time to be com­pleted. He added that the fact that the process was tak­ing a long time showed that things were be­ing taken se­ri­ously. Dr Mus­cat said the au­dit should be com­pleted be­fore long and he was sure it would be pub­lished once com­pleted.

Mean­while at the Aula Magna in the Old Univer­sity, a group of jour­nal­ists from all me­dia out­lets waited in vain for the Prime Min­is­ter to fin­ish his com­mit­ment at an award cer­e­mony to ask him about Kon­rad Mizzi’s ear­lier tes­ti­mony in court.

The Prime Min­is­ter chose not to use the main en­trance to leave the build­ing, pre­fer­ring to use a sec­ondary exit, avoid­ing the me­dia.

Jour­nal­ists lined up pre­pared to ask the Prime Min­is­ter for the name of the com­pany which is car­ry­ing out an au­dit into Kon­rad Mizzi’s ac­counts since the No Port­fo­lio Min­is­ter re­fused to name the in­ter­na­tional com­pany in court, in­sist­ing that ques­tions should be put to the Prime Min­is­ter.

The wait­ing was over when one of his me­dia of­fi­cers in­formed the jour­nal­ists that the Prime Min­is­ter had left the build­ing.

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