Updated | Police, institutions ‘hijacked’ by ‘corrupt’ government – Busuttil

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil says there is a ‘whiff of corruption’ after it emerged that Chinese official involved in Enemalta’s deal with Shanghai Electric also had offshore company set up by Nexia BT • Labour Party says PN, Busuttil are working against Malta and deterring investment

Malta’s police force and the country’s independent institutions have been “hijacked” by a “corrupt government with no moral compass,” Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said this morning.

Speaking during a radio interview on Radio 101 following new revelations on the Panama Papers scandal, Busuttil insisted that the leaks have resulted in a “total collapse of the government’s authority and a crisis of corruption.”

Busuttil’s comments come in the wake of reports which revealed how Nexia BT, the auditors who set up offshore firms with Mossack Fonseca for the former energy minister Konrad Mizzi, had also incorporated an offshore company for Cheng Chen, a Chinese engineer employed with Shanghai Power Electric, the Chinese state-owned firm which acquired a 33% stake in Enemalta.

The PN has since called on the Attorney General to freeze Mizzi’s assets, while the minister, has in turn, sued PN leader Simon Busuttil and MPs Jason Azzopardi and Marthese Portelli.

Busuttil pulled no punches and insisted there is a “strong whiff of corruption” over the allegations surrounding Enemalta and Shanghai Electric deal, arguing that the claims warrant an immediate investigation.

“Every right-thinking person would think there’s something that stinks about this deal,” he said.

Similarly, Busuttil argued that the police should investigate all the government contracts which crossed the path of the former energy minister. Mizzi has been involved in the partial privatisation of Enemalta to Shanghai Electric, the new LNG plant awarded to the ElectroGas consortium, the privatisation of the St Luke’s and Gozo Hospital, oil procurement, as well as a hedging agreement with Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR.

All contracts were awarded by public expressions of interest except for the sale of a 33% stake in Enemalta, and Mizzi’s ministerial direction to Enemalta to hedge for fuel with SOCAR, which forms part of the ElectroGas consortium.

Taking exception at the lack of investigation, Busuttil argued that his reiterated appeals for an investigation had repeatedly fallen on deaf ears, and that consequently, the police were not defending the citizen’s interests.

“Instead of doing the obvious thing and investigate Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri, the police are doing the exact opposite and defending the government,” the Opposition leader said.

The Opposition also refused claims that the Panama Papers scandal is a closed chapter, arguing that the new details that have emerged have uncovered “Konrad Mizzi’s lies.”

“The more he lies, Konrad Mizzi’s reputation continues to plummet. Everything that crossed his path is now tainted,” he claimed.

Refuting Busuttil’s claims, the Labour Party said the only collapse in Malta is the PN’s political collapse, arguing that it is mired in negativity and bitterness towards anything that is going well.

The Labour Party also accused the PN and Simon Busuttil of deterring investment and of actively working against Maltese families and businesses.

“Thanks to the citizenship scheme and the energy plan, which the PN is still against, many families are living better,” it said.

The Labour Party also argued that the Caritas report on poverty highlighted how Malta’s poverty rates decreased thanks to the government creating more work. The PL’s remarks were made following earlier claims by Simon Busuttil that the government was not focusing on people’s struggles as it was mired in corruption.

“The Prime Minister said he would eradicate poverty. The hard truth is that poverty has become more prevalent.”

“The government cannot focus on people’s problems because it is knee-deep in corruption.  It does not have a moral compass and is a crisis of corruption … Instead of focusing on people’s problems, the government is busy filing libel suits and fighting scandals,” Busuttil said.

The PN leader also dismissed the government’s criticism of the PN’s traffic proposals, arguing that the “short-term” proposals should be immediately implemented to alleviate traffic congestion.

Despite admitting that the traffic problem had not started under the current administration, the PN leader insisted that the issue has gotten worse “thanks to Joe Mizzi, the government’s most incompetent minister.”