Bartolo breaks silence on Panama, ‘I would have followed Sant’s advice’

Education minister tells press he would have taken up advice from Alfred Sant for Konrad Mizzi to resign

Evarist Bartolo (left) at the Labour general conference, next to justice minister Owen Bonnici
Evarist Bartolo (left) at the Labour general conference, next to justice minister Owen Bonnici

Education minister Evarist Bartolo has broken his silence over the fate of energy minster Konrad Mizzi, whose offshore interests in Panama were revealed by the leak of over 11.5 million documents from the Panamaniam law firm Mossack Fonseca.

In a reference to former Labour leader Alfred Sant’s post on Facebook, Bartolo said that had Sant “given me that piece of advice, I would have resigned,” he told the Malta Independent.

Bartolo is one of several veteran MPs who in a Labour parliamentary group meeting expressed his opinion that Mizzi should resign his post as energy minister.

Mizzi, the newly-elected PL deputy leader for party affairs, insists he has done nothing wrong by setting up an offshore company in Panama which is owned by the trustees who run his offshore New Zealand trust, Rotorua.

“If it were me, I would never have anything to do with jurisdictions like Panama. In ancient times there were laws for gods and laws for animals. Are we animals?” Bartolo said.

Former Labour prime minister Alfred Sant said that Mizzi should do the “honourable thing” and resign.

Whilst praising Prime Minister Joseph Muscat for showing “an admirable sense of fair play and prudence” in how he handled news of Mizzi’s Panamanian company and offshore trust, the Labour MEP criticised Mizzi for placing the onus on Muscat.

On Thursday, the embattled energy minister that he was “serene and happy,” and refuted suggestions that he had committed anything wrong by opening an offshore company in Panama. Although he was expected to resign, Mizzi passed the buck on to Muscat and said that he would “consider any decision he feels fit”.

Sant argued that what should have been a clear and inevitable decision should have never been placed on Muscat.

“In his personal and political interest, in the interest of his family, of the Labour Party and the government and in the national interest, Mizzi’s honourable decision is to resign as soon as possible,” the former Labour prime minister said.

Sant went on to add that Mizzi would then be in a better position to defend his name and his honour.

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