[WATCH] Gatt’s Swiss bank account predates leadership, says Busuttil

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil says he will suspend PN members found – under his leadership – to have stashed undeclared cash overseas

PN leader Simon Busuttil (Photo Ray Attard)
PN leader Simon Busuttil (Photo Ray Attard)
PN leader: Austin Gatt's Swiss bank account predates leadership

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil has deflected questions on whether former Nationalist minister Austin Gatt should also consider himself suspended from the Nationalist Party for having held money in a Swiss UBS bank account.

“Two years ago I wasn’t PN leader,” Busuttil told journalists. “The Austin Gatt case happened before – if it happens today I will address such a matter. It is not my business to deal with the past.”

Busuttil, a deputy leader of the PN during the 2013 general election, refused to comment on his position on former investments minister Austin Gatt, who during the election was outed by the Labour press of having held a UBS account in Switzerland.

The Opposition leader said that his position was that anyone on a list of HSBC Banque Privée Geneva clients – recently leaked after having been in French police’s hands since 2006 – should be suspended from his party.

He insisted that the position taken against former ministers Michael Falzon – recently elected to the PN’s executive committee – and Ninu Zammit showed that people know where he stands: “You know where you stand with me … If an issue rises today, Simon Busuttil has a position and you know what my standards are.”

Busuttil said that Falzon and Zammit will remain suspended from the party until the two clear their names for having held cash in Swiss bank accounts.

The two former ministers repatriated their monies under government amnesties, one launched by the PN administration and the other by Labour.

In a reaction on social media platform Twitter, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat quipped that "Michael Falzon and Ninu Zammit are not Austin Gatt".

The PN leader said that in defending the reputation of his party, he would suspend any members “on the list” and ostensibly for having kept undeclared cash in a Swiss bank account: “I haven’t yet heard what the Prime Minister will do if people he appointed or any Labour Party official is on the list.”

“I am the leader of the party and I will set our standards. It is unacceptable that a person with a public role, or who held a political a role, is listed on this list,” Busuttil said, referring to the as yet unpublished Hervé Falciani Swiss Leaks list.

The only Maltese name confirmed to be on the list is that of Tancred Tabone, the former Enemalta chairman facing bribery charges. Pressed to confirm whether Zammit’s and Falzon’s names were on the list, Busuttil replied “I don’t know”.

He went on to add that a meeting of the “relevant PN organ” will take place on Monday afternoon to investigate the Swiss bank accounts held by the two former ministers.

“I will call on the relevant PN organ today to discuss the suspension: if these people clear their name pending their suspension, I will have no problem welcoming them back.”

The Opposition leader kept insisting that it was unacceptable for anyone to be on the Swiss Leaks list, when asked whether any PN official or member should consider their role untenable if they held an overseas bank account.

 

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