Updated | Prime Minister, Schembri deny filing criminal complaint against any sources

Simon Busuttil this evening warned that a criminal complaint was filed to take action against the people who exposed the alleged kickbacks by Keith Schembri to Adrian Hillman • Labour Party warns that Simon Busuttil's lies 'must be exposed'

Simon Busuttil interviewed by Fabian Demicoli at a PN activity in Mgarr
Simon Busuttil interviewed by Fabian Demicoli at a PN activity in Mgarr

Simon Busuttil this evening warned that a criminal complaint was filed to take action against the people who exposed the alleged kickbacks by Keith Schembri to Adrian Hillman

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his chief of staff Keith Schembri have both denied filing a criminal complaint against Simon Busuttil’s “sources”, the Labour Party said in a statement this evening.

“Simon Busuttil is lying once again. It is absolutely not true that the Prime Minister or Keith Schembri have filed a complaint against anyone who passed on information.”

This evening, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil revealed that duty magistrate Aaron Bugeja received an urgent criminal complaint (kwerela) aimed at taking action against his sources that the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri had paid kickbacks to former Allied Group managing director Adrian Hillman.
Addressing a political activity in Mgarr, Busuttil said that he had just been informed that an urgent criminal complaint with the duty magistrate so that “action can be taken against people who had the courage to release this information”.
He didn’t reveal who filed the criminal complaint, but pinned the blame solely on the Prime Minister.
“The situation is now so grave that, instead of firing Keith Schembri, Muscat wants to investigate the people who were courageous enough to pass this information to me,” he said. “My message to these courageous people, who sacrificed a lot to pass this information to me, is that I will stand by your side.
“Muscat is trying to shut up people who are exposing criminality, and the time has now come to fight this with our votes,” he said to rousing cheers from the crowd.

“If Muscat thinks that this intimidation, will scare people who come to me with information, then I tell him that he will not shut me up and that I am here to give a voice to these people. The government will conduct a witch-hunt against these people, but I am telling them that the PN will be here to protect you. Take courage and don’t them break you.”

But in its reaction, the Labour Party said that Busuttil had found himself with his back against the wall, scared of the outcome of the Egrant inquiry.

The PL said the fact that such a criminal complaint was not presented by either Muscat or Schembri could be easily verified with the Police or from Court records.

“It is in the public interest that all the dangerous lying of Simon Busuttil is exposed. This is nothing but an attempt by Simon Busuttil to decieve the people and create instability. Such obscene politics do not have a place in our country and the Labour Party is certain that the people are going to reject it on 3 June.”

Busuttil appeared in court this morning accompanied by a delegation carrying eight files of evidence, after Aaron Bugeja accepted a court application Busuttil filed yesterday, making himself available to testify once again over revelations from documents he claimed show Keith Schembri paid to former Allied Group Adrian Hillman €650,000 between 2011 and 2015.

He rubbished criticism from the Labour Party that the box files were empty, arguing that they were actually packed to the brim with compromising evidence.

“Labour’s reaction was ridicilous…how low can they go? I can assure the Labpur Party that the box files were not empty, but they contained concrete proof that our country is led by criminals.”

Busuttil said that the documents included evidence that Schembri paid Hillman €650,000 in separate installments, and that the latter laundered the money by investing it in bonds.

He noted that the official reason for these payments was for “consultancy for services relating to editing and publishing”.

“What editorial services could Hillman have provided to Keith Schembri? By any chance, was Schembri trying to buy certain people before and after the last election? We now know that these people try to buy everyone.”

He reiterated that foreign companies will be analyzing the upcoming election closely, to decide whether to start or continue investing in Malta or not.

“Two decisions will be taken – by the public and by the boardrooms. If Muscat winds, then foreign companies will take it as a sign that the public has given its blessing to corruption and they will look elsewhere for their business, at the cost of several Maltese jobs.”  

He noted that Muscat was supposed to attend a hearing by the European Parliament’s Panama Papers committee earlier today, but failed to turn up.

“Everyone in Strasbourg is talking about how Muscat turned down the invitation,” he said. “This government has damaged Malta’s reputation which has placed the economy at severe risk. Instead of using the EU presidency as a chance to shine the spotlight on Malta and show the world what a great country it is, these corrupt people have ruined the opportunity and embarrassed us around the entire world. In June, I will travel to Brussels and inform them that we are back in business.”

PN pledges ministry for agriculture and fishing

During the political activity, the PN launched its proposals for the agriculture sector – key amongst which is to set up an entire ministry specifically dedicated to agriculture and fishing. The two sectors are currently the responsibility of a parliamentary secretariat which falls under the environment ministry.

“I pledge that the PN will become the natural home of farmers, and indeed I will set up a ministry for agriculture and fishing to send out a clear message of our commitment,” Busuttil said.

A PN government will also set up a national helpine for farmers, seek to ensure full food produce transparency, launch a national campaign on labouring to clamp down on abuse, and encourage farmers to diversify their produce. It will also offer consultancy services to farmers when filling out EU fund applications, conduct studies “to ensure that Maltese farmers compete with their EU counterparts on a level playing field”, and launch agritourism schemes.