Mus­cat un­der pres­sure as se­nior min­is­ters, MPs urge him to take ac­tion on Mizzi and Schem­bri

● MEP David Casa writes to Ger­man gov­ern­ment call­ing for in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Siemens’ in­volve­ment

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - Rachel At­tard and David Lind­say

Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat is fac­ing ex­treme pres­sure from lead­ing ex­po­nents of his par­lia­men­tary group to fi­nally take ac­tion against Min­is­ter Kon­rad Mizzi and his chief of staff Keith Schem­bri in the wake of the lat­est 17 Black graft al­le­ga­tions.

In the mean­time, Na­tion­al­ist Party MEP David Casa yes­ter­day wrote to Ger­man Sec­re­tary of State Stephan Mayer to “im­me­di­ately launch an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in terms of the Ger­man Crim­i­nal Code” given the Ger­man com­pany’s in­volve­ment in the Elec­troGas con­sor­tium. Casa said that “the clear ev­i­dence of cor­rup­tion and money laun­der­ing as well as the fact that a con­nec­tion to the as­sas­si­na­tion of a jour­nal­ist can­not be ex­cluded”.

Well-in­formed gov­ern­ment sources speak­ing to this news­pa­per on con­di­tion of anonymity, said yes­ter­day that since the out­break of the lat­est de­tails on Fri­day of graft linked to the com­mis­sion­ing of the De­li­mara power sta­tion, se­nior min­is­ters, Labour Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment and close friends have been ad­vis­ing Mus­cat to cut Schem­bri and Mizzi loose be­fore the col­lat­eral dam­age be­comes too much to bear.

They are sug­gest­ing that the Prime Min­is­ter takes ur­gent ac­tion on Mizzi and Schem­bri – to have them sus­pend them­selves, or pos­si­bly even step down, from their du­ties un­til on­go­ing in­quiries and in­ves­ti­ga­tions are con­cluded.

In fact, sources have in­formed this news­pa­per that the rea­son the Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter did not re­act on Fri­day was be­cause the Prime Min­is­ter was in­un­dated with phone calls from his peo­ple urg­ing him to take ac­tion against the pair once and for all.

Those same sources speak­ing to this news­pa­per ap­pear to have had no so­lace from the Prime Min­is­ter, and have also warned this news­pa­per that the gov­ern­ment will, in all like­li­hood, is­sue a state­ment to­day re­but­ting the in­for­ma­tion.

Se­nior Labour politi­cians are per­plexed by Mus­cat stub­born de­fence of Mizzi and Schem­bri, and can­not fathom how he has not taken im­me­di­ate re­me­dial ac­tion against them af­ter Fri­day’s rev­e­la­tions in a joint ar­ti­cle by The Times of Malta and Reuters. The ar­ti­cle ex­posed Elec­troGas direc­tor Yor­gen Fenech as the Ul­ti­mate Ben­e­fi­cial Owner of the se­cret com­pany 17 Black, the “tar­get clients” of Mizzi’s and Schem­bri’s fi­nan­cial machi­na­tions.

Ques­tioned on Fri­day evening, Mus­cat said when con­fronted by jour­nal­ists that he will wait un­til the in­quiries re­lated to al­le­ga­tions made about 17 Black are con­cluded be­fore tak­ing any steps.

“I have said from the be­gin­ning that I will wait for the in­ves­ti­ga­tions and in­quiries, some of which were asked for by in­de­pen­dent ju­di­cia­ries and oth­ers by the Op­po­si­tion, to be con­cluded. I will then take the de­ci­sions I need to take.

“I also note that that I can­not as­cer­tain my­self what the jour­nal­ists saw, and they are quot­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions that are be­ing con­ducted by Mal­tese au­thor­i­ties. Up un­til yes­ter­day, I was still hear­ing the crit­i­cism that the Mal­tese au­thor­i­ties were not re­ally in­ves­ti­gat­ing.”

Casa calls on Ger­man au­thor­i­ties to in­ves­ti­gate Siemens’ role in Elec­troGas graft

David Casa yes­ter­day wrote to the Ger­man Sec­re­tary of State Stephan Mayer call­ing for an im­me­di­ate in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Siemens’ pos­si­ble in­volve­ment in the graft, in­vok­ing Sec­tions 299-302 of the Ger­man Crim­i­nal Code deal­ing with bribery in com­mer­cial busi­ness trans­ac­tions and other rel­e­vant pro­vi­sions of Ger­man law.

Casa pointed out that “Siemens is a share­holder in Elec­trogas – the com­pany be­hind Malta’s power sta­tion project. Elec­trogas direc­tor Yor­gen Fenech has been ex­posed as the Ul­ti­mate Ben­e­fi­cial Owner of the se­cret com­pany 17 Black by the Daphne Project – a group of worl­drenowned jour­nal­ists that are con­tin­u­ing the work of in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia. Ac­cord­ing to cor­re­spon­dence be­tween Mos­sack Fon­seca and Nexia BT, 17 Black was to trans­fer €150,000 monthly each to Kon­rad Mizzi and Keith Schem­bri, two high level po­lit­i­cally ex­posed per­sons that are the minds be­hind Malta’s power sta­tion project.

“Funds from en­ti­ties as­so­ci­ated with the power sta­tion project were trans­ferred to 17 Black. Funds found in 17 Black’s bank ac­count at Noor Bank in Dubai were frozen last Septem­ber.

“At the time of Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia’s as­sas­si­na­tion the jour­nal­ist was work­ing on the big­gest leak of data she had ever re­ceived – ac­cess to Elec­trogas servers.

“The most re­cent rev­e­la­tions of the Daphne Project have con­tin­ued to vin­di­cate Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia’s in­ves­tiga­tive work.

“In view of the in­volve­ment of Siemens in Elec­trogas, the clear ev­i­dence of cor­rup­tion and money laun­der­ing as well as the fact that a con­nec­tion to the as­sas­si­na­tion of a jour­nal­ist can­not be ex­cluded, I call on you to im­me­di­ately launch an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in terms of the above quoted ar­ti­cles of the Ger­man Crim­i­nal Code.”

24 hours on and the Prime Min­is­ter has not taken any ac­tion’ Delia –

Twenty-four hours have passed and Mus­cat has still not taken any ac­tion over the rev­e­la­tions. In a state­ment, Delia said that by Mus­cat’s own yard­stick – where he said that if it was re­vealed that he or his wife owned Egrant he would have re­signed – Schem­bri and Mizzi should be re­moved given that they had ac­quired com­pa­nies in Panama.

Delia said that in the PL’s 2013 elec­toral man­i­festo, Mus­cat said he be­lieved in re­spon­si­ble and ac­count­able politi­cians, politi­cians who an­swer for their ac­tions. “If Mus­cat truly be­lieves in ac­count­abil­ity and cares about Malta’s rep­u­ta­tion, then he has no other road left to take ex­cept to im­me­di­ately re­move Schem­bri and Mizzi. What is he wait­ing for? Who is hold­ing him back?”

Delia ac­cused Mus­cat of play­ing for time, adding that Mus­cat him­self is de­lay­ing court in­quiries through ap­peals.

Delia should re­sign Labour Party –

By his own yard­stick, Delia should him­self re­sign, the Labour Party re­torted in a state­ment.

Delia, the PL said, “was the sub­ject of a num­ber of al­le­ga­tions, and his name was tied to crim­i­nal acts in a num­ber of ar­ti­cles pub­lished by Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia.

“We will never know the truth about th­ese ar­ti­cles as Delia was al­ways afraid of ask­ing for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The PL said that through Delia’s words yes­ter­day, “one must wait for the in­ves­ti­ga­tions re­gard­ing what was said in the me­dia.”

Joseph Mus­cat held hostage by Schem­bri and Mizzi AD –

AD yes­ter­day joined calls for Mus­cat to sack Mizzi and Schem­bri with im­me­di­ate ef­fect: “If he chooses to con­tinue de­fend­ing th­ese two po­lit­i­cal delin­quents he should also shoul­der re­spon­si­bil­ity and step aside as well.”

AD Chair­per­son Carmel Ca­co­pardo said, “It is now more than crys­tal clear that the Prime Min­is­ter is held hostage by Kon­rad Mizzi and Keith Schem­bri. He is de­fend­ing the in­de­fen­si­ble.

“Joseph Mus­cat’s ref­er­ence to on­go­ing in­quiries is a poor and shal­low ex­cuse for in­ac­tion. Mus­cat should know that there is a dif­fer­ence be­tween shoul­der­ing po­lit­i­cal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions. The whole coun­try is also be­ing held hostage by po­lit­i­cal delin­quents Kon­rad Mizzi and Keith Schem­bri, with the shadow of cor­rup­tion putting the whole coun­try in a bad light on the in­ter­na­tional stage. Mean­while, Mus­cat prefers de­fend­ing just two peo­ple to the hilt rather than de­fend­ing the whole coun­try.

“The as­cer­tain­ing of crim­i­nal re­sponsi- bil­i­ties can wait but po­lit­i­cal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties should be shoul­dered im­me­di­ately. Lack of ac­tion against th­ese two delin­quents will mean that our coun­try’s rep­u­ta­tion will re­main sul­lied and stained with the muck of cor­rup­tion,” Ca­co­pardo added.

Our sys­tem is bro­ken; we need to fix it God­frey Far­ru­gia –

Par­tit Demokratiku also re­newed its call for the im­me­di­ate sus­pen­sion of Kon­rad Mizzi and Keith Schem­bri from all gov­ern­ment ac­tiv­ity, pend­ing the out­come of a po­lice crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into their in­tended deal­ings with 17 Black.

Mizzi and Schem­bri were ex­posed in the Panama Pa­pers as hav­ing es­tab­lished two se­cret busi­ness ven­tures in Panama. PD pointed out that their ad­vi­sors, Nexia BT had said, “Th­ese com­pa­nies in­tended to trans­act with Fenech’s 17 Black and es­ti­mated that Mizzi and Schem­bri would earn €150,000 per month from this busi­ness re­la­tion­ship. All plans were made when Fenech’s Tu­mas Group was bid­ding for the De­li­mara Gas-fired Power Sta­tion Project as part of the Elec­troGas con­sor­tium and Ene­malta, which fell un­der the po­lit­i­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity of Mizzi, was ne­go­ti­at­ing the bid.

PD Leader God­frey Far­ru­gia said, “De­cency calls on Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat not to be sur­rounded with the likes of his Chief of Staff Keith Schem­bri and Min­is­ter Kon­rad Mizzi. Joseph Mus­cat has per­sis­tently failed to act in Malta’s in­ter­ests. He can no longer ig­nore this.”

Far­ru­gia added, “Pub­lic sec­tor of­fi­cers and peo­ple’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives should never en­gage in any kind of per­sonal com­mer­cial re­la­tion­ship with a com­pany with which they are deal­ing in an of­fi­cial ca­pac­ity. There is ev­i­dence that Chief of Staff Keith Schem­bri and Min­is­ter Kon­rad Mizzi in­tended to do just that in the 17 Black af­fair.”

It ap­pears that the orig­i­nal plans of Mizzi and Schem­bri were only thwarted be­cause ev­ery bank in the world that they ap­proached came to a com­mon con­clu­sion: “Their plans stank.”

“17 Black shows how the sys­tem is bro­ken. It is our job to fix it,” Far­ru­gia added.

PD MP Mar­lene Far­ru­gia said: “The ev­i­dence has to be in­ves­ti­gated by lo­cal po­lice. What have the po­lice done over the past seven months since they re­ceived the FIAU re­port nam­ing Yor­gen Fenech as the owner of 17 Black? Who knows about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion? Are we sure no­body in gov­ern­ment got wind of this be­fore yes­ter­day?”

PD Deputy Leader Tim­o­thy Alden said: “17 Black is the lat­est episode in a saga that paints big busi­ness as too close to pol­i­tics. We need to build a sys­tem that is fit for pur­pose: one that pri­ori­tises the in­ter­ests of cit­i­zens and en­sures that ev­ery­one plays by the rules. We can­not af­ford to have gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in busi­ness with peo­ple who are meant to de­liver the best deal for us.”

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