PN: Prime Minister incapable of stopping conflicts of interest

Police’s lack of action on Panama papers and other cases of conflict of interest adding to Malta's bad reputation abroad

Beppe Fenech Adami said the PM cannot continue lying to people
Beppe Fenech Adami said the PM cannot continue lying to people

Beppe Fenech Adami has said that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is too close to his chief of staff, Keith Schembri, and is incapable of stopping cases of conflict of interest. He added that Muscat is acting as though the nation were incapable of understanding that when someone in Schembri’s position is involved in negoatiations with a company that will most likely use the services of his companies, there is a conflict of interest.

He said that the government’s announcement of investment being brought to Malta has been overshadowed by the involvement of a person who was involved in the Panama papers and who admitted to trying to open overseas bank accounts to accept commissions.

“Whenever Keith Schembri is involved in some form of negotiations, it raises questions,” said Fenech Adami.

He questioned when negotiations with Crane Currency started and whether Schembri had been a part of the negotiations, adding that it raises suspicions about whether the government could have done more to prevent De La Rue form laying off 300 employees, and chose not to do so.

“It is unacceptable for a country to have a Prime Minister’s chief of staff with these business links and it is even more unacceptable that Muscat is defending him and treating people as fools. This is not done in a modern democratic country that is also an EU member state,” he said.

He said that the Prime Minister had lied when he said that none of Schembri’s companies had won government tenders and that reports in the media had proved that between September 2013 and March 2015, his companies were in fact awarded a number of government contracts.

The Crane Currency case, he said, was even more serious because Schembri in this case is shown to have been negotiating or facilitating discussions when he was the one who is gong to be benefitting directly from the outcomes of the negotiations.

Fenech Adami also rubbished claims that Crane would be buying equipment directly from the suppliers and that Schembri would not be benefitting from its procurement. He said that anyone who knows how a representation agreement works knows that if equipment is sold and moves within the territory a company has representation over then that company is owed a commission from the sale. Moreover, he said the company would surely be benefitting from servicing contracts for the equipment purchased.

Asked about whether the Police should be investigating this case, Fenech Adami said that the Police commissioner has the obligation to investigate any possibility of bribery and corruption.

“The police can’t keep running and hiding as they have done on the Panama Papers. We can’t have a situation where there is an investigation by the EU, which will be focusing on Malta quite a bit, and which will undoubtedly consider the authorities’ inertia in reacting, while the police are not doing anything.” He added that this was also damaging Malta’s reputation abroad.

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