[WATCH] Busuttil insists Prime Minister should sack Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi

Opposition leader accuses PL of conflating Panama company owners with intermediaries 

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil
Busuttil insists Prime Minister should sack Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil expects Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to sack his chief of staff Keith Schembri and minister Konrad Mizzi after the Panama Papers database confirmed the two hold offshore companies.

Busuttil is also calling on the authorities to investigate for whom a third Panama company – Egrant - opened by accounting firm Nexia BT was destined for. Nexia BT insists that Egrant is still a shelf company.

“Muscat no longer has any excuses not to fire Mizzi and Schembri, particularly seeing as Malta will take on the EU presidency next year,” he told a press conference at the Parliament building. “The more he delays in taking action, the more he is damaging Malta’s reputation.”

Busuttil drew a clear line between the shareholders of offshore companies whose names appeared in the Panama Papers and the intermediaries who helped set them up.

He accused the Labour Party of trying to conflate the two so as to ease the Mizzi and Schembri.

"The Panama Papers proves that no PN MP or official, directly or indirectly, own companies in Panama or in the British Virgin Islands," he said.

Former PN minister Ninu Zammit was named in the Panama Papers, but Busuttil noted that he had suspended him from the party as soon as his name had popped up in last year’s SwissLeaks revelations.

The PN leader brushed off revelations that the legal firms of PN executive Ann Fenech and the former firm of PN MP Francis Zammit Dimech had served as intermediaries for BVI and Panama companies.

"There is a clear difference between clients and service providers. If a person is found guilty of a crime by court, will his lawyer get sentenced as well. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being part of a legal firm that deals with clients in the financial industry, as indeed I once was myself. What is problematic is for for a serving minister to open a secret company in Panama.

"Labour is trying to equate the two so as to give off the impression that everyone is as dirty as Mizzi and Schembri, and hence that no one should be beleived."

However, he warned that Brian Tonna, the managing partner of Nexia BT - the accounting firm that set up Panama companies for Mizzi, Schembri and a third unknown person - has a clear conflict of interest.

"Tonna has an office at Castille and works as Mizzi's and Schembri's personal consultant. He should no longer remain involved at Castille."

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