Accusations of money laundering

It was inevitable that the activities and successes of Keith Schembri's business past would be used as fodder to bring him down - a businessman in the post of chief of staff will always raise questions

18 May 2017, 8:05am
Cartoon by Mikiel Galea
Cartoon by Mikiel Galea
The revelations made yesterday by the leader of opposition referred to sizeable transactions from offshore companies to accounts here in Malta and abroad between Keith Schembri and the Adrian Hillman a former managing director of The Times. According to Dr Busuttil, the transactions date back to 2011 and continue until 2015.  

The leader of opposition said he would present his proof of these transactions to the Magistrate and he added that he had no faith in the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General. He said that the police had information about these transactions as far back as a year.

MaltaToday asked Dr Busuttil if the transactions were related in any way to the construction and development of the Progress press site by the Kasco group of companies where Keith Schembri was a director and is still a majority shareholder.   

The allegations of money launderings and kickbacks are serious, later in the evening Keith Schembri and Adrian Hillman issued a statement saying they had paid tax on all transactions and had invoices to prove this.  

Schembri said his business invoices has all been documented, declared and tax paid thereon here in Malta. The same was stated by Adrian Hillman who added that this was declared. He also said he would seeking legal advice regarding Busuttil’s statements.

The truth is that the business links and life of Keith Schembri has come back to haunt.  

It was inevitable that the activities and successes of his business past would be used as fodder to bring him down. The issue clearly being that a businessman in the post of chief of staff would always raise questions.

A reality check would show these perceptions and realities may impact directly on Joseph Muscat.  

The first magisterial inquiry 

From the start of this electoral campaign, there were a number of questions which were more than just justified in being asked.  

Will the magisterial inquiry be finalized before the election?  

And what will happen if the findings of the inquiry are published before or after the election?  

The truth is that Magistrate Aaron Bugeja knows that his inquiry will have a crucial impact on the election. Needless to say he has obligations, the first is to present the facts and the truth and the second is to present these findings in the shortest time possible.

There is little doubt that Magistrate Bugeja is well aware of the implications of his decision. And that he must ride high and over the toxic feelings on both sides of the political spectrum and get on with it.

There is nothing more sublime and supreme than the truth. If the report, findings and investigations are finalized they should be published at once.  

This should give the public something to go by.  In a sea of conflicting statements.

The Prime Minister has already made it very clear that he will step down if the allegations are proven to be true. The leader of opposition has been more cautious by stating that he is not the one with a Panama account.

But whether we like it or not, as in all things, it is perception that counts. Either way the inquiry goes there are ramifications and repercussions. There are no two ways about it, the public deserve to know the truth.