Li­bel case against PM: Ann Fenech de­fends her­self against ‘lady in Panama’ al­le­ga­tions

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

PN Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Ann Fenech has de­nied al­le­ga­tions and in­sin­u­a­tions made by the PL over her in­volve­ment in Panama com­pa­nies, through a li­bel case heard in court yes­ter­day.

She in­sti­tuted the li­bel case against Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat, as head of the PL, and Daniel Mi­callef, PL Pres­i­dent, on two state­ments re­leased by the PL on 3 March 2015 and 6 March 2015. She said the state­ments claim she kept the Panama com­pa­nies un­der wraps for many years.

She re­jected al­le­ga­tions of hav­ing a set up an ac­count in Panama, sim­i­lar to that of Min­is­ter with­out port­fo­lio Kon­rad Mizzi.

The 6 March state­ment read that she was in­volved in Panama-reg­is­tered com­pa­nies since 2003.

In 2003, she said, Fen­lex Cor­po­rate Ser­vices, a sub­sidiary of Fenech and Fenech Ad­vo­cates as­sisted a client in op­er­and Tim­ber Trad­ing Cap­i­tal Inc. and Union Pri­vate Ltd. in Panama. She said that she be­came Direc­tor of Fen­lex in 2005.

As a re­sult, Dr Fenech ex­plained, around 30 bill­boards were erected with the slo­gan “The lady in Panama”.

Dr Fenech added that “sev­eral PL rep­re­sen­ta­tives went on tele­vi­sion at­tempt­ing to put me in the same bas­ket as Min­is­ter Kon­rad Mizzi..

She said that Min­is­ter Kon­rad Mizzi, on Timestalk, said that the two com­pa­nies in Panama are Tim­ber Trad­ing Cap­i­tal Inc. and Union Pri­vate Ltd. were in­cor­po­rated by Fen­lex, and in­sin­u­ated that she was the ul­ti­mate ben­e­fi­cial owner.

She said that the PL kept in­sist­ing that she dis­close the names of the ben­e­fi­cial own­ers, how­ever she can­not legally do so.

Dr Fenech’s lawyer, Joe Zam­mit Maem­pel asked her whether she was the ul­ti­mate ben­e­fi­cial owner of any Panama com­pany, to which she said no.

She said that to her knowl­edge, Panama was not black­listed in 2003 and 2004, but rather was black­listed in 2015. Dr Fenech ar­gued that she didn’t sue Min­is­ter Mizzi, or oth­ers as they were say­ing what they said on the strength of the PL state­ment.

“At the end of the day, peo­ple were ask­ing what is this Ann Fenech per­son do­ing? There was a con­fer­ence called Op­por­tu­ni­ties in Su­pery­achts in March 2016 in which we were par­tic­i­pat­ing. Many peo­ple came from abroad. As soon as they ar­rive they find a bill­board with my name.”

She said she does not know what is more of­fen­sive, the poster, or peo­ple be­ing led to be­lieve she was guilty of some­thing.

Dr Fenech told the court that she has been work­ing in the mar­itime sec­tor for 30 years. “I am also the pres­i­dent of the Malta Mar­itime Law As­so­ci­a­tion, and two years ago I was elected as an ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber of the Com­mit­tee Mar­itime In­ter­na­tional. She ex­plained that the CMI, a coun­cil of 13 mem­bers, is re­spon­si­ble for the draft­ing of the In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s con­ven­tions. She said she was hu­mil­i­ated, hav­ing to ex­plain what was hap­pen­ing in Malta.

“Why? Be­cause ac­cord­ing to the Labour Party I was in­cor­po­rat­ing com­pa­nies in Panama and un­like Kon­rad Mizzi, I hadn’t de­clared them.”

She re­ferred to a ques­tion which had been posed to the Prime Min­is­ter about what he planned to do about Min­is­ter Mizzi, say­ing the PM replied, “Don’t you think you should ask me about Anne Fenech?” She stressed that those who watch the news would start to think that she did some­thing wrong.

She also de­nied be­ing di­rectly in­volved in the IIP scheme, how­ever her firm did par­tic­i­pate. She stressed that she per­son­ally has never han­dled a sin­gle ap­pli­ca­tion on a point of prin­ci­ple

Dr Paul Lia, rep­re­sent­ing the de­fen­dants, said that Dr Fenech said many things for the ben­e­fit of the me­dia, and re­served the right to con­test the rel­e­vance of some of the ev­i­dence.

Dr Joe Zam­mit Maem­pel and Dr An­to­nio Ghio are rep­re­sent­ing Dr Fenech.

She re­jected al­le­ga­tions of hav­ing a set up an ac­count in Panama, sim­i­lar to that of Min­is­ter with­out port­fo­lio Kon­rad Mizzi

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