Konrad Mizzi’s London property acquired in 2010 for £365,000

Panama Papers | UK property energy minister said he wanted leveraged for offshore trust, acquired for £365,000 in 2010

The Blackheath property acquired by the Mizzis could be worth over €500,000 today.
The Blackheath property acquired by the Mizzis could be worth over €500,000 today.

A London property acquired by energy minister Konrad Mizzi in 2010 might be worth just over half a million pounds sterling, according to comparable prices found on online property sales websites.

Mizzi, who faces pressure to resign for having opened an offshore company in Panama that hides his beneficial ownership, had claimed he sought to use proceeds from the rental of his London property to invest in his offshore trust in New Zealand.

Land registry records procured by MaltaToday confirm Mizzi and his wife acquired their three-bedroomed Blackheath semi-detached in June 2010 for £365,000 (€440,000 in 2010).

The property was valued at £249,000 back in 2003 and £140,000 in 1999. Property websites consulted by this newspaper put the price of a similar three-bedroomed at anything between £450,000 and £550,000 at today’s prices.

Mizzi declared just over €37,500 in rental income over 2013 and 2014, according to tax returns provided by the House of Representatives.

Mizzi had said that his offshore structure was intended for a family trust for assets and investment, and prospective investments include the leveraging of his property in London. Mizzi had also said his trustees, Orion Trust New Zealand, would manage “future investments which will seek to attain a reasonable return for the beneficiaries”.

Earlier this week, Mizzi did not disclose the address of his UK property, sought in a bid to ascertain its value. “Minister Mizzi pays due taxes both in the UK and Malta. His tax statements have already been made public in the media. He has subjected himself to a fully-fledged tax audit which no other politician has done in the history of Malta. He is fully collaborating on this because he has always acted fairly,” a spokesperson said.

Mizzi’s tax declarations show that in 2013 he earned €40,442 as ministerial salary, and €16,025 in rental income, and benefited from a 20% tax reduction on rent of €3,205. In 2014, he earned a €51,672 salary and €21,543 in rental income, and benefited from a tax reduction of €4,309.

In his ministerial declarations, Mizzi has also declared some €310,000 in bank deposits, apart from €329,000 in loans for the Sliema property where he resides.

The tax declarations raise questions as to Mizzi’s alleged intentions to open an offshore company in Panama since the Australian Financial Review published emails from Nexia BT – who represent Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca in Malta – showing the banks consulted for the opening of a bank account for Hearnville Inc. demanded at least $800,000 in initial annual deposits.

According to a signed statement from 16 June, 2015 published by the AFR, Mizzi said that his offshore trust in New Zealand would be funded by “personal assets and proceeds from business” and that his Panamanian company Hearnville would receive fees from “management consulting and brokerage.”

According to emails published in the AFR, Nexia BT and Mossack Fonseca enquired with seven different banks to open accounts for Mizzi’s Hearnville Inc, as well as for Tillgate, the offshore company opened for the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri.

Schembri has confirmed on his part that his offshore structure was intended to transfer profits generated from his Kasco business group, and as a holding structure for waste recycling business interests in the Gulf and India, and to expand his business group in the remote gaming industry.

But Schembri denied that this was part of a joint business enterprise he was setting up with Mizzi.