Konrad Mizzi to declare New Zealand family trust

Energy minister says trust he registered in New Zealand, with shell company that has no funds, will be used for family’s asset management

Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi (Photo: Ray Attard)
Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi (Photo: Ray Attard)

Energy minister Konrad Mizzi has announced the existence of a family trust that he registered in New Zealand, and which he says he will be submitting in parliament in his declaration of assets.

Mizzi, who tomorrow Thursday will be elected Labour’s new deputy leader for party affairs, confirmed with MaltaToday that the family trust was set up in 2015.

He was answering questions on his personal financial affairs ahead of the Labour election. “I have always been and will always be transparent in my state of affairs,” said Mizzi, whose family lived overseas prior to his entering politics.

“Due to the ongoing work pressures and long hours I do not have time to manage my financial affairs effectively,” Mizzi said.

Mizzi, who handles both energy and health portfolios as minister, said that in 2014 he and his wife Sai Mizzi sought advice on asset management and last year opened a trust.

“This will protect our assets and will ensure we realise a fair rate of return. Our assets will be managed by a professional set-up and trustees. My wife and I will not be personally involved in managing this set-up and the beneficiaries of the trust are myself, my wife and my children.”

Mizzi said the trust was still a shell structure with no assets or funds in it.

“The trust is regulated and registered in New Zealand, a stable parliamentary democracy that is one of the world’s most well-governed nations, having ranked in the top tier of indexes on the strength of its democratic institutions, government transparency and lack of corruption.”

Mizzi said that the trust currently owns a shell company that has never been used. “This may be used in the future to hold my existing property and possibly investments. Currently the trust does not have any bank accounts. The trust was set up for long-term family asset management and inheritance.”

Mizzi last submitted his ministerial declaration of assets for 2014, in which he declared two properties – one in London, UK and the other in Malta – as well as 4,000 shares in Malta International Airport, €310,000 in bank deposits, €329,000 in loans, and a €76,000 income.

“I have always strived to hold myself to the highest standards and will continue to do so. The trust is duly reported in my submission for declaration of assets for 2015 – the year in which it was created – and will be submitted in Parliament. In future years the content of the trust will be updated in my declaration of assets,” Mizzi said.

Mizzi, 38, met his wife Sai Liang, today consul-general for Shanghai, at the University of Nottingham in the UK where he graduated PhD, and afterwards worked in senior roles at Deloitte, Moorhouse Consulting, British Telecom, and global consultancy Pcubed, where he built its energy practice and served as partner for the Europe, Middle East and Africa regions.

Deputy leader election

Mizzi’s election to PL deputy leader for party affairs, for which he runs uncontested, was made possible after an amendment to the party statute to remove the bar on sitting MPs from running for the party’s second deputy leadership post.

“One of my key priorities will be to improve the party’s communications, which will include a revamped schedule of current affairs programmes. We will be active and communicate on all fronts. I have engaged broadly with delegates and party members and have committed that we will once more open up party structures to ensure that everybody can contribute, within a defined structure. The feedback cycle with government will improve. This is critical for constantly improving performance.”

Mizzi also told MaltaToday that Labour’s leadership would engage broadly with all stakeholders to develop the best ideas to be presented to the public at the next general elections. “The next manifesto will push boundaries further to continue to improve people’s lives,” Mizzi said.

Mizzi criticised the Nationalist party, which he accused of conducting a character assassination campaign against him. “Friends within the PN parliamentary group warned me of the leadership's agenda… they have repeatedly come out with fictitious stories. There is a clear attempt to attack me and my family in the PN-leaning media. I will not shy away from pursuing further libel suits in court in the coming weeks,” Mizzi said.

As minister he has been tasked with delivering a new LNG plant that is expected to be completed by mid-2016. The plant’s construction and gas supply was open to an international expression of interest that was then won by a consortium made of Maltese business group GEM (Gasan and Tumas groups), the Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR, and Siemens. Gasol plc, formerly a 25% shareholder, left the consortium last year.

“I am proud to be part of Joseph Muscat’s team. It is changing Malta for the better. Over the last two years we improved pensions, introduced free childcare, eradicated out-of-stock medicines, reduced waiting lists for operation, reduced electricity rates and water tariffs and introduced policy changes such as co-education.

“We have also raised standards by introducing new laws on party financing, the whistleblower’s act, removed prescription on crimes by politicians, and improved civil liberties. These are the reasons for which I ran for office. There is more to do, and more lessons to be learnt.”