PN MEPs appointed on committee probing Panama Papers

EP probe on Konrad Mizzi’s offshore interests will put Malta’s EU presidency ‘under a dark cloud’, PN MEPs say

(From left) Therese Commodini Cachia, Roberta Metsola and David Casa
(From left) Therese Commodini Cachia, Roberta Metsola and David Casa

PN MEPs David Casa and Roberta Metsola will be sitting on the European Parliament committee tasked to investigate alleged money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion in relation to the Panama papers revelations.

The third PN MEP, Therese Commodini Cachia chosen as a substitute.

In a statement issued following the selection of MEPs, Casa said that the focus of the committee is that of addressing loopholes in EU regulations.

“Even with the tougher EU Anti-Money Laundering laws adopted last year the financial manoeuvres of politicians strongly suspected of corruption and money laundering would have remained undetected without the panama papers leaks,” he said.

The Konrad Mizzi case puts the entire country in a bad light. We will do our utmost to show that the actions of those in Castille should not be a reflection of Malta’s reputable financial services industry. And we must advocate for the creation of additional safeguards to prevent persons in power with criminal intent from being able to operate undetected so easily” 

On her part, Metsola said the European Parliament’s investigation will most likely see minister without portfolio Konrad Mizzi hauled before MEPs “who will undoubtedly question the various mercurial excuses he put forward to try to explain away the setting up of his secret financial operations while he was (energy) minister.”

Noting that the inquiry will be extensive, Metsola said this will coincide with Malta’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, “putting the golden opportunity our country will have of being in the driving seat of the EU agenda under a dark cloud.”

“No one will be taking any pleasure in this. It puts the entire country under a bad light. Konrad Mizzi could have avoided it by resigning. Joseph Muscat could have avoided it by sacking him when he refused. They chose this road at the expense of Malta's reputation," she said.  

The main task of the committee is to investigate whether the European legislation already in place is lacking, or whether the Commission or Member States have failed to ensure its effective implementation and enforcement.

“The involvement of Minister Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff will certainly put Malta in the spotlight and question whether the Maltese government holds enforcement of financial legislation to be a priority,” the MEPs added.

Comodini Cachia insisted that the Panama Papers have revealed how a few power wielding persons hide their income and assets in jurisdictions which provide secrecy “thereby escaping public scrutiny and fiscal obligations.”

“Their actions, however, ought not to be confused with the standards of professionalism and due diligence operated by Maltese financial service providers who are law abiding professionals," she added.    

In the coming weeks, the committee’s work will commence on devising its work programme and compiling the list of persons to be called to answer questions by this new Panama Inquiry Committee.

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