Minister dubs Busuttil a ‘threat to democracy’ after calls for FIAU report publication

Carmelo Abela says the law precludes the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit from publishing the results of its investigations

Home affairs minister Carmelo Abela described Simon Busuttil as a “threat to democracy” after the Opposition leader called on the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit to publish the results of its investigation into the Panama Papers revelations.

Abela noted that the law clearly forbids the FIAU from publishing reports and information related to their investigations.

“Does the Opposition leader want us to break the law or is he telling us that he will cherry-pick which laws to follow if he is elected Prime Minister?” he questioned. “If so, then he is the real threat to democracy.”

Finance minister Edward Scicluna confirmed in April last year that the FIAU was investigating the Panama Papers, which revealed that minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff own offshore companies. However, the resignation of FIAU director general Manfred Galdes – and the subsequent resignation of police commissioner Michael Cassar – fed rumours that Galdes had stepped down because the police refused to investigate the report.

Busuttil on Monday urged the FIAU’s new director general Kenneth Farrugia to immediately finding the results of its Panama investigation.

However, the FIAU is precluded from divulging any report or making it public. The law which established the FIAU makes any officer who divulges such information to five years imprisonment.

In Parliament this evening, Busuttil insisted that the Opposition had a right to question whether the FIAU are investigating the case.

“Edward Scicluna confirmed that the FIAU had started to investigate the case, so doesn’t the public have a right to know whether the investigation has finished or not and whether the police are acting on it?” he questioned. “Nobody is asking you [Abela] to interfere in the police’s duty, although we suspect that you are in fact interfering to ensure that they don’t investigate Mizzi and Schembri.”

Abela said that the situation hasn’t changed since a police spokesperson confirmed with the media last year that there was no “reasonable suspicion” for the police to investigate the Panama Papers.