Kon­rad Mizzi, Keith Schem­bri do not re­spond to ques­tions on fresh al­le­ga­tions

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE -

Min­is­ter Kon­rad Mizzi and the Prime Min­is­ter’s Chief of Staff Keith Schem­bri have not re­sponded to ques­tions on fresh al­le­ga­tions raised by the Op­po­si­tion.

The al­le­ga­tions sur­round the prox­im­ity of the dates on which the Vi­tals Global Health­care hospi­tal pri­vati­sa­tion agree­ments were signed and Panama Pa­pers cor­re­spon­dence dated just a few days later giv­ing the go ahead to open bank ac­counts for their Panama com­pa­nies.

Fol­low­ing last week’s pub­li­ca­tion of redacted copies of the hospi­tal pri­vati­sa­tion con­tracts, the Op­po­si­tion’s me­dia and politi­cians have once again placed Dr Mizzi and Mr Schem­bri in their crosshairs. They point out how the agree­ment with Vi­tals Global Health­care had been signed on 30 Novem­ber 2015 while just two days later, on 2 De­cem­ber 2015, Karl Cini from Nexia BT on their be­half sent a let­ter to an over­seas bank to pro­ceed with open­ing bank ac­counts for their Pana­ma­nian com­pa­nies.

Ac­cord­ing to a 27 Novem­ber in­ter­nal email from a Mos­sack Fon­seca em­ployee, “I called BSI Panama and the ini­tial de­posit can be $100K.” Ac­cord­ing to the emails, the cus­tomer needed to put $1 mil­lion into the ac­count over the course of the year, or, fail­ing that, $800,000, but if the amount to be de­posited was sig­nif­i­cantly

be­low that thresh­old, the bank would close the ac­count.

Mr Cini, in his re­ply on 2 De­cem­ber 2015 said, “Go ahead to start the open­ing of the ac­counts for those 2 panama com­pa­nies.”

This, it tran­spires, was just two days after the gov­ern­ment signed the Service Con­ces­sion Agree­ment and the Health Ser­vices De­liv­ery Agree­ment with Vi­tals Global Health­care on 30 Novem­ber 2015.

Emails sent to Mr Cini fol­low­ing that read: “We were told by one of our con­tacts that the BSI Bank was re­cently sold to a Colom­bian bank. Rules are chang­ing and we were told that if the clients are not ap­ply­ing for im­mi­gra­tion Visas in Panama they won’t open the ac­count.”

The emails never re­vealed whether the bank ac­count was ac­tu­ally opened or not, but both Mr Schem­bri and Min­is­ter Mizzi had pre­vi­ously said that no ac­count had ever been opened.

Ac­cord­ing to the Op­po­si­tion, Vi­tals Health­care Ltd - a Maltareg­is­tered com­pany - is owned by Blue­stone In­vest­ments Malta Ltd, which, in turn, is owned by Blue­stone Sit­u­a­tion 4 Ltd, which is reg­is­tered as an off­shore com­pany in the fi­nan­cially se­cre­tive ju­ris­dic­tion of Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands.

Emails dat­ing as far back as Au­gust and Septem­ber 2015 de­tailed the in­ten­tion for bank ac­counts to be opened for the Pana­ma­nian com­pa­nies owned by Dr Mizzi and Mr Schem­bri, but a num­ber of banks are doc­u­mented to have re­fused open­ing ac­counts.

Mizzi and Schem­bri do not com­ment

Emails sent to both Min­is­ter Mizzi and Mr Schem­bri ask­ing them to ex­plain the few days’ dif­fer­ence be­tween the hospi­tal con­tracts’ sign­ing and the 2 De­cem­ber go ahead to open bank ac­counts, as well as to give them the op­por­tu­nity to de­fend them­selves against al­le­ga­tions be­ing made by the Op­po­si­tion, have not been an­swered.

Just an­other co­in­ci­dence?

Last March this news­room had re­vealed how Dr Mizzi’s Pana­ma­nian com­pany had been trans­ferred to his New Zealand trust on 22 July 2015 – the very same day that Ga­sol, the for­mer lead part­ner in the De­li­mara power sta­tion con­sor­tium – had sold its en­tire share­hold­ing for an es­ti­mated mil­lions of eu­ros, after having in­vested just €2,500 in the Elec­tro­gas con­sor­tium.

As in the case of Vi­tals Global Health­care, Ga­sol’s ma­jor­ity share­holder is also lo­cated in a se­cre­tive fi­nan­cial ju­ris­dic­tion – the Sey­chelles.

This news­pa­per had also re­vealed that in the case of Ga­sol’s par­ent com­pany and ma­jor­ity owner, African Gas Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion Limited, is reg­is­tered at and con­trolled out of the of­fices of none other than Mos­sack Fon­seca in the Sey­chelles.

Mos­sack Fon­seca had also opened a Malta off­shoot in May 2013 un­der Brian Tonna of Nexia BT. And it was Nexia BT that had, in turn, “ad­vised” then En­ergy and Health Min­is­ter Kon­rad Mizzi to take on his Pana­ma­nian com­pany. Brian Tonna, Nexia BT Direc­tor, had told this news­room at the time that “our hold­ing of shares in Mos­sack Fon­seca Malta Limited is purely on a fidu­ciary ba­sis”.

At the time Dr Mizzi had sent a right of re­ply to that story, rather than ac­cept­ing an in­ter­view as was re­quested back then, say­ing that th­ese two events (the trans­fer of the Panama com­pany and Ga­sol sell­ing its shares) were un­re­lated. A state­ment sent to this news­room by Dr Mizzi said that, “There is ab­so­lutely no re­la­tion or con­nec­tion be­tween the es­tab­lish­ment of Dr Mizzi’s de­clared trust and re­lated struc­tures and the sale of Ga­sol shares to the other share­hold­ers of Elec­tro­gas Malta”.

Min­is­ter Mizzi also re­it­er­ated in his state­ment that he “…has also sub­jected him­self to a full tax au­dit which shall show that all al­le­ga­tions lev­elled at him over the past weeks are base­less”.

That au­dit, how­ever, has still not been pub­lished some nine months down the line from when it was first sup­pos­edly com­mis­sioned.

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