EP Panama inquiry committee granted permission to come to Malta

Alternattiva Demokratika chairperson Arnold Cassola says European Parliament committee probing money laundering, tax evasion and tax avoidance coming to Malta in early 2017

The European Parlaiment yesterday approved the request from PANA to send a delegation to Malta, from 20 to 24 February
The European Parlaiment yesterday approved the request from PANA to send a delegation to Malta, from 20 to 24 February

An inquiry committee of the European Parliament set up to investigate the Panama Papers leak will be coming to Malta in February, Alternattiva Demokratika chairperson Arnold Cassola has revealed.

Cassola said that the European Parliament approved the request made by the Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion (PANA) to send a delegation to Malta in February.

PANA is the committee investigating the Panama Paper revelations when over 11 million files were leaked from Mossack Fonseca, revealing massive international tax evasion.

Among the thousands of names were Konrad Mizzi – who has since resigned as energy minister but stays on in the Cabinet as minister within the Office of the Prime Minister – and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri.

“Since the Maltese Parliament and government have not taken concrete action on tax avoidance and evasion, even in light of the Panama affair, AD hopes that EP inquiry will shed light where others have failed,” Cassola said.

Cassola said that whilst no action was taken by Malta to investigate the connections of Maltese politicians and politically exposed persons, the European Parliament will now do the job for the Maltese citizens.

“The Maltese people deserve full transparency with regards to the ethical behaviour - or the lack of it - of their representatives,” he said.

Last month, the European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents declined the PANA committee’s its request to send a delegation to visit Malta as part of its work programme, saying that missions to the Presidency countries are now systematically rejected, unless linked to “High Level Conference”.

PANA chairman Werner Langen told committee coordinators that the PANA visit to Malta would focus on the country’s compliance with EU legislation on money laundering and taxation.

The Nationalist MEPs weclomed their visit as well, noting that Mizzi and Schembri will now have "the perfect opportunity to justify their actions".

“The truth must come out. Corruption and money laundering must be fought. It is right and proper that the European Parliament has taken this direction. The European public, including the Maltese people, deserve no less. The inquiry committee insisted all along for this Malta visit, which is the first visit of this Committee outside Brussels,” David Casa, head of the PN delegation, said.

MEP Roberta Metsola added: "The European Parliament investigation moving to Malta, will give Konrad Mizzi a chance to explain the details of his secret financial set up and why he choose to circumvent  EU safeguards by setting them up in third countries on the other side of the world. The visit will also give a platform for our financial services industry to back our arguments as to why Konrad Mizzi's case should not be used as a guise to impinge on Malta's financial services systems."

On her part, MEP Therese Comodini Cachia said: “David, Roberta and I worked from the very beginning in this inquiry committee in order to make sure that instances like these do not happen again in Malta and in Europe. MEPs hailing form the whole political spectrum understood the urgency of the Malta case and this is clear from this decision taken by the Conference of Presidents of all political groups.”

Similarly, the Democratic party also welcomed the news regarding the EU delegation, saying that it looked forward to justice being served with “the common people and honest workers paying their taxes. DP also criticised the government for failing to lead by example.

The government has fallen short on taking action against a high ranking public official and a minister within his cabinet whose names appeared in the Panama Papers. The government has also failed in taking concrete action when it comes to tax avoidance and tax evasion. This has resulted in shifting the whole scandal onto the government due to their inaction. Furthermore, the people deserve to know the outcome of the supposedly investigation announced earlier on this year,” a party statement read.

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