Maltese Court Rejects Panama Papers Investigation

Published: 10 January 2019

panama-1308874 960 720Maltese court rejects Panama Papers investigation

By Harry Holmes

Malta’s Court of Appeals revoked an order on Tuesday for an inquiry into allegations of money laundering by government officials revealed in the Panama Papers, claiming “hacked” documents cannot be used as evidence.

The judge ruled that a request from former opposition leader Simon Busuttil failed to sufficiently prove that a crime had been committed, dismissing the claims as “speculation.”

“[Busuttil] sees an ulterior motive behind everything, which he is at liberty to do, but he does not say how each one or all together could have been a crime meriting a magisterial inquiry,” said Judge Grixti.   

The judge dismissed the value of the “hacked” papers. “Witnesses and documents obtained under the law do not have any probative value,” he said.

Busuttil responded to the judgement on Twitter: “How can a Court refuse to open an inquiry when Mizzi and Schembri were caught RED-HANDED with a secret Panama company to pocket €5,000 a day? This cannot be right.”

  It overturns a magistrate’s decision in July 2017 ordering an inquiry into possible money laundering by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, former energy minister Konrad Mizzi, chief of staff Keith Schembri, and four businessmen.

“Criminal Court dismisses Simon Busuttil’s Panama Papers accusations against me and others as nothing but speculation. Justice saw through two years of defamation and unnecessary delays by PN Malta’s failed politician,” tweeted Mizzi.

  The Panama Papers first revealed the existence of Mizzi and Schembri’s offshore companies in 2015. Among the documents were emails listing two Dubai-based companies, 17 Black Ltd and Macbridge Ltd, as “target clients.”

At the time Mizzi was the energy minister,responsible for awarding a major power station contract to Electrogas Malta Ltd. It has since been revealed by The Daphne Project that Yorgen Fenech, an Electrogas’ director, is also the secret owner of 17 Black.

Leaked emails from financial advisors Nexia BT, who opened Schembri and Mizzi’s secret companies, state the ministers would receive €150,000 a month via 17 Black and Macbridge. Schembri and Mizzi deny these claims.

Jason Azzopardi, Busutill’s lawyer and opposition MP, confirmed on Thursday they will continue to explore alternative avenues for a full inquiry.