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[WATCH] PN to hold anti-corruption protest over ‘unprecedented scandal’

Simon Busuttil dismisses Mizzi's announcement that he will close his Panama offshore company as 'admission of guilt', says it 'fails to get to the core of the government's corruption crisis'

Tim Diacono
29 February 2016, 7:28pm
File photo: Simon Busuttil (Photo:Ray Attard)
File photo: Simon Busuttil (Photo:Ray Attard)
PN to hold anti-corruption protest against 'unprecedented scandal'
The Nationalist Party will hold a protest in Valletta on Sunday to protest the “corruption crisis” the government is facing, Simon Busuttli said today, after energy minister Konrad Mizzi declared the ownership of an offshore company in Panama.

Addressing a press conference in Parliament, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said the protest will be the first of “several initiatives” to protest corruption, urging people who were “angry and disgusted at corruption” to attend.

“Since Joseph Muscat didn’t act like the Prime Minister of a normal, democratic, European country, the PN will give a platform to the people to express their rage, their disgust and their indignation at this state of affairs,” Busuttil said.

Ħabbart Protesta Nazzjonali kontra l-Korruzzjoni, nhar il-Ħadd li ġej fil-Belt Valletta. Ningħaqdu flimkien, aktar minn qatt qabel, sabiex is-sewwa jirrenja f'pajjiżna. #IWillBeThere

Posted by Simon Busuttil on Monday, 29 February 2016
He dismissed Mizzi’s announcement that he will close down the company, Hearnville Inc, pending an audit by the Commissioner for Inland Revenue.

“This scandal is unprecedented and cannot be solved simply by closing down the company, as it doesn’t get to the root of the problem which is that the government is facing a corruption crisis,” he said.

“Let us not defend the indefensible. Mizzi was caught opening a trust in New Zealand and a company in Panama after he was appointed as minister, and that is completely indefensible.

“He knew that Panama is notorious as a location for money laundering and that it has been blacklisted as a tax haven by the European Commission. His position is now untenable. The true problem isn’t the company, but Konrad Mizzi and Joseph Muscat. This government is rotten to the core.”

When asked whether he is accusing Mizzi of money laundering, Busuttil dodged the question and said that “the company wasn’t opened for nothing” and that the question must be redirected to Mizzi himself.

He noted that Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri has admitted holding a New Zealand trust, as well as an attached company.

“Keith Schembri hasn’t denied that his company is also registered in Panama,” Busuttil said. “Mizzi and Schembri are the two closest people to the Prime Minister, and wield more power than anyone in the country besides Muscat. We don’t believe that they set up the companies and trusts for familial reasons.”

He questioned whether the two sets of companies and trusts were set up at the same time and by the same financial consultant, and whether Muscat is any way personally involved.

“If that is the case, then it would mean that we are facing an unprecedented scandal of enormous proportions,” he said. “Whenever you think that this government has reached the pits, it keeps digging deeper.

“Muscat has now gone past all limits of common decency, and the people are angry and disgusted at the way he brushed off this scandal."

Tim Diacono is a journalist at MaltaToday