PL urges Busuttil to publish Cedoli donors as loan scheme hits €3 million mark

Justice minister Owen Bonnici calls on Opposition leader to publish names of people who loaned money to the PN's Cedoli loan scheme 

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
12 September 2016, 3:11pm
Justice minister Owen Bonnici and Labour CEO Gino Cauchi address a press conference
Justice minister Owen Bonnici and Labour CEO Gino Cauchi address a press conference
The Labour Party called on Simon Busuttil to publish the list of people who loaned money to the PN’s Cedoli scheme, after the Opposition leader revealed that it has yielded the party around €3 million.

Justice minister Owen Bonnici claimed that the PN launched the Cedoli scheme specifically to bypass a recent law that requires political parties to publish the names of people who donate over €7,000.

“Transparency is not a commodity to be used when it suits you, but rather a principle that should be applied across the board,” Busuttil told a press conference at the PL headquarters. “The time has come for Busuttil to walk the talk.”

Bonnici also noted that revelations of the PN’s Cedoli scheme coincided with Busuttil’s defence of the Planning Authority’s decision to instantly revoke the licenses of four fish farms in breach of the law. When asked whether he is suggesting that fish farm operators could have loaned money to the PN, Bonnici responded that the two events “occurred in the same historical context”.

The controversial Cedoli scheme, which allows for loans of €10,000 that the PN will repay over the next 10 years at an interest of 4%, has been repeatedly criticised by the government and the Labour Party alike as the donors’ names were not disclosed.

The PN has since rejected the calls and has repeatedly stood by its decision not to publish the names of donors due to the fact that the Cedoli scheme is a “private scheme.” Moreover, it has refuted claims that the scheme bypasses party financing rules, instead arguing that the scheme does away with favours that were common under previous schemes.

Owen Bonnici refused to commit to updating the law in a way that would force political parties to disclose the names of people who loan them money.

“The point of this press conference is to question Busuttil’s political credentials, independent of any potential future legal changes,” he said. “As a citizen, I believe that it is Busuttil’s duty to set higher standards than those provided by the law, rather than to try and bypass the law.”

Labour chief executive Gino Cauchi decried the Cedoli scheme as one “that resembles money laundering or institutionalised fraud”.

He questioned whether the PN is conducting any form of due diligence on people who loan them money.

“If a person wants to loan over €5,000 from a bank, the bank instantly invokes know-your-client regulations to ascertain their financial situation. Is the PN conducting such due diligence on its clients?

“Also, its 4% interest rate is much higher than rates offered by banks, this although the PN has never denied reports that it is heavily in debt.”