On inconclusive police investigation, Busuttil wants to smell government rat

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil insists MaltaToday’s report into a money laundering investigation that could have been ignored is ‘deviation’ from LNG tanker berthing at Marsaxlokk

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil has claimed that a police investigation into money laundering that was never pursued, ostensibly when the name of PN deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami cropped up is a “deviation” from the LNG tanker that will be berthing at Marsaxlokk.

Speaking to the PN faithful in Luqa, Busuttil made brief reference to MaltaToday’s investigations that the Maltese police had failed to pursue a money laundering investigation, hindering the Dutch authorities who were investigating suspected drug traffickers. Beppe Fenech Adami’s name cropped up as one of the directors of the fiduciary services company that handled the affairs of CapitalOne Investment Group. CapitalOne is connected to a Dutchman whose property was raided in a drug bust.

In his first reaction, Busuttil attempted to discredit and sideline the revelations by claiming that the investigations – which were carried out jointly with a London-based freelance journalist and author – were “an attempt to deviate the public’s attention from the LNG tanker.”

“If these allegations are true, I ask what the police did during the three years that followed? The people in Castille have delivered a story to try and deviate attention from the LNG tanker,” Busuttil said.

The MaltaToday investigation was carried out jointly with freelance journalist Mark Hollingsworth, a London-based journalist and author who has written for The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Observer, and the Telegraph, amongst others.

Busuttil’s comments follow those of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who, earlier on Sunday, ordered an independent inquiry into the revelations.

Speaking ahead of the arrival of the Armada LNG Mediterrana – the LNG tanker that will be permanently berthed at Marsaxlokk Bay for 18 years to supply gas to the new Electrogas power plant – Busuttil said Muscat ignored safety concerns to gain political mileage.

Reiterating his opposition to the “unnecessary” power plant, Busuttil said the LNG tanker was a “monument to corruption” and a “symbol of irresponsibility”.

“If the Prime Minister wants to truly act as a statesman and not a salesman, he has a final chance to avoid the risks and consequences,” Busuttil insisted.

The Opposition leader said safety studies which were yet to be published and experts had warned of the safety concerns that the LNG tanker would pose, only for the prime minister to ignore them and have his own way.  

“This is an irresponsible and cowardly act. It can have serious consequences,” he said.

Busuttil said the Prime Minister should act “responsibly” and not in “immature” manner, arguing that the safety and wellbeing of nearby residents and workers should take precedence over political points.

The PN leader said Malta was ill-equipped to deal with any emergency that may be caused due to inclement weather, a fire or a collision with another vessel, a gas leak, or an explosion.

“You know the risks involved, yet you still have not published the safety studies and potential risks. I will hold you personally responsible for any consequences as you did not heed the warning,” Busuttil insisted.

He claimed that assurances given by former energy minister Konrad Mizzi – who was stripped of his energy portfolio following the Panama Papers revelations – meant little as Mizzi was revealed to own a secret in Panama.

The Opposition leader claimed that during the next Budget, the government would announce a further electricity price cut “in an attempt to deflect criticism from the LNG power plant.”

However, the PN leader claimed that the electorate would be able to “see through the government’s lies” and recognise that the reduction in utility tariffs was due solely to interconnector, the BWSC plant, and the drop in oil prices.

“The BWSC power plant resulted in less pollution and cheaper electricity rates, while the interconnector gives the government the opportunity to purchase electricity from overseas at potentially cheaper rates … These are enough to implement further cuts,” he said. .

Busuttil also questioned why the government committed itself to buy electricity for 18 years from Electrogas when it could purchase electricity via the interconnector.

“Why did the Prime Minister accept a ‘take or pay’ agreement whereby he would still purchase the energy generated even when not required? Who is crazy enough to agree to such conditions,” he said.

The Opposition leader pledged that if it the interconnector electricity would be cheaper, a future PN administration would disregard the government’s contract with Electrogas.

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