[WATCH] Muscat: ‘I am against corruption, but I won’t take lessons from Busuttil’

Prime Minister defends chief of staff Keith Schembri: ‘He made his success before entering politics. Nobody questioned Richard Cachia Caruana’s property and wealth’

File photo: Joseph Muscat
File photo: Joseph Muscat

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Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is standing by his chief of staff and energy minister, both of whom admitting holding offshore vehicles and trusts that have exposed them to speculation and suggestions of tax avoidance and money laundering using Panama’s notorious secrecy laws.

Muscat turned down suggestions by MaltaToday that his right-hand man Keith Schembri’s offshore business was putting him in a politically uncomfortable situation.

“It would be uncomfortable had this person entered politics for his own benefit,” Muscat said of Schembri, whose family runs the Kasco group.

“This man made his success in business before entering politics, who has chosen to work for his country – much in the same way that Richard Cachia Caruana did,” he said referring to Eddie Fenech Adami’s former head of secretariat.

“Cachia Caruana was certainly not on minimum wage, came from noble stock, and his properties and wealth were never subjected to any audit in the way that Schembri has chosen to do.”

Muscat went further in questioning why no PN administration had ever blacklisted Panama’s tax jurisdiction in its 25 years of government if it was now holding the country up to the light of transparency.

“I am against corruption, as any citizen who loves this country is. I would go to the protest on Sunday but I won’t because the person who is organising it has no credibility, was part of a corrupt government and a system in which he never spoke out when there were problems such as the oil scandal. He shut up and did nothing,” Muscat said referring to Opposition leader Simon Busuttil.

“People expect better of us and I take responsibility as prime minister. I have to act on criticism, but the PN is in no position to give lessons.”

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