Konrad Mizzi confirms appearance before EP committee investigating Panama Papers

Konrad Mizzi confirms he will be appearing before the PANA committee on Monday

De facto energy minister Konrad Mizzi
De facto energy minister Konrad Mizzi

OPM Minister Konrad Mizzi has agreed to appear before an inquiry committee of the European Parliament investigating Panama Papers, which revealed massive international tax evasion.

Taking to Twitter, Mizzi announced that he had phoned EPP MEP Werner Langen, to confirm his intention to appear before the PANA committee.

The PANA committee will be in Malta on Monday to meet with the Tax Compliance Unite, the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, the Malta Financial Services Authority and Finance Minister Edward Scicluna, among others.

The committee has also invited OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri, PN deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami and PN MP Tonio Fenech. So far, only Fenech Adami has accepted the invitation.

Alternattiva Demokratika chairperson Arnold Cassola has called on Schembri to accept the invitation.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat hinted that only Mizzi would be appearing before the committee as he made specific reference to 'politicians':  “As a politician, I believe that politicians called to give their version of events should do so when asked.”

Mizzi was the only EU minister to be revealed to have opened a Panama offshore company using Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm from which over 11.5 million documents were leaked through the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists.

Government sources had previously claimed that it would be likely that Mizzi would not attend the hearing because EU member states were advised by the Council of Ministers’ legal service that MEPs could not assume upon themselves the power of the European Commission to ask member states on how they have enforce taxation rules, unless they had clear allegations of contraventions or proof of maladministration.

Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna turned down the invitation to appear before the committee but the firm said it would be replying to questions sent by email.

According to Green MEP Sven Giegold, Nexia BT reassured that the questions would be answered by Monday.

Welcoming Mizzi’s participation, Giegold said it was unfortunate that Schembri’s confirmation was “still missing”.

“A no-show would be a serious disrespect towards European democracy, in particular during the Maltese presidency of the Council. It is unfortunate that Brian Tonna and Nexia BT have so far refused their appearance. The committee will discuss at a later stage which consequences we draw from this failure to appear. In any case we expect complete and honest answers to our written questions.”

The committee’s questions to Nexia BT focus on the firm’s relationship with Mossack Fonseca Malta, the company’s involvement in the gaming industry and who is behind shelf company Egrant.

The committee also asked Tonna to confirm whether he “has a desk in the Office of the Prime Minister”.

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