Freez­ing of Keith Schem­bri’s as­sets should have hap­pened in April 2016 – David Casa

Malta Independent - - News -

The freez­ing of the as­sets of Keith Schem­bri, the long-time Chief of Staff of for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat, should have hap­pened in April 2016, PN MEP David Casa told Euro­pean Com­mis­sioner Vera Jourova in a meet­ing on Wed­nes­day.

Fol­low­ing the strong state­ments on the com­mit­ment to­ward the rule of law and the pro­tec­tion of jour­nal­ists by Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Ur­sula von der Leyen dur­ing the State of the Union speech last week, Casa held a meet­ing with Věra Jourová, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Vice-Pres­i­dent for Val­ues and Trans­parency.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, Casa up­dated Vice-Pres­i­dent Jourová on the lat­est devel­op­ments in Malta, namely the freez­ing of as­sets of Keith Schem­bri and Brian Tonna, and what the EPP de­scribed as “the po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence by the Prime Min­is­ter in the Pub­lic In­quiry into the as­sas­si­na­tion of jour­nal­ist Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia.”

Schem­bri and Tonna were ar­rested on Tues­day soon af­ter their as­sets and those of the com­pa­nies they are in­volved in were frozen over sus­pi­cions of money laun­der­ing. Schem­bri, Tonna, and another Nexia BT part­ner Karl Cini, were ar­rested in con­nec­tion with a re­cently con­cluded mag­is­te­rial in­quiry into al­le­ga­tions that Schem­bri re­ceived €100,000 in kick­backs from Tonna on the sale of Mal­tese pass­ports. Schem­bri was re

leased un­der po­lice bail on Tues­day night.

“Over the past years, Malta’s in­sti­tu­tions have been hi­jacked by a crim­i­nal ca­bal in­tent on pro­tect­ing cor­rupt politi­cians to the detri­ment of hon­est cit­i­zens. The set­ting up of the In­quiry into the as­sas­si­na­tion of Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia was op­posed at ev­ery turn by the Mal­tese gov­ern­ment. It must now be al­lowed to con­tinue its work in tran­quil­lity, free from any po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence. The Board should be able to con­tinue their work for as long as they deem it nec­es­sary,” Casa told Jourová.

The EPP said that Casa and Jourová also dis­cussed the lat­est devel­op­ments re­gard­ing Keith Schem­bri.

“The freez­ing of as­sets should have hap­pened four and a half

years ago, in April 2016, when the Panama Pa­pers were re­vealed. If the au­thor­i­ties had done their job back then, Daphne would still be alive to­day,” Casa said.

Casa also re­it­er­ated his call for ad­di­tional fund­ing for me­dia houses that have been badly hit by the COVID-19 pan­demic. “At a time when we need the free press more than ever, they are un­der most strain,” Casa stated.

Casa and Jourová also dis­cussed the Com­mis­sion’s long awaited plans to ad­dress abu­sive SLAPP prac­tices. Casa wel­comed the Com­mis­sion’s com­mit­ment to tackle this is­sue and gave the Vice-Pres­i­dent as­sur­ances of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment sup­port for leg­is­la­tion that will put an end to these prac­tices.

Věra Jourová

David Casa

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