Busuttil will sack police chief, ‘police must investigate textbook case of money laundering’

PN leader says PANA committee unequivocal on Panama offshore company set-up chosen by former minister and PM chief of staff

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil charged minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri with having opened offshore vehicles commonly associated with money laundering, and called once again for a police investigation.

Speaking on TVM’s Dissett, he held up the newspaper coverage of the day that reported the proceedings of the PANA committee of MEPs in Malta, and took to task the Commissioner of Police for not having yet investigated what he said was a potential crime.

He also insisted that a third company acquired by auditors Nexia BT, revealed in the same email that requested the Mizzi and Schembri companies, must belong to someone “way more important” – a suggestion that Nexia BT has in the past replied by denying that this company was destined for Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

“The email refers to [Egrant’s] owner as not being Nexia BT,” Busuttil said quoting the infamous email, disputing claims by Nexia BT’s managing partner Brian Tonna, who is insisting that Egrant remains his shelf company and never traded since its set-up. “He said he would communicate the name of an ‘individual’ via Skype. The third name was not given because the name is too important to be mentioned by email,” Busuttil said.

The PN leader said it would not be his job to prove any claim that Egrant belongs to Muscat. “That’s the police commissioner’s job.”

Busuttil was more cagey over previous statements where he had commended an internal inquiry by Allied Publications – kickstarted on an accusation of bribery by Malta Independent columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia – that led to the dismissal of director Adrian Hillman but which ended recently with an out-of-court settlement. Keith Schembri, whom she suggested of having bribed Hillman (Schembri supplies Allied with newsprint and also provided the company’s printing press with a printing machinery, and both men set up BVI offshore companies through the same intermediary), has called for the publication of the Allied inquiry.

“What interests me is Schembri’s role as chief of staff. What he did before, does not interest me,” Busuttil said. “My standards are those of transparency… I would publish the inquiry.”

PBS head of news Reno Bugeja jabbed Busuttil by suggesting Allied’s settlement suggested there was no wrongdoing as alleged, so would he apologise for his categorical statements? “I do my job as PN leader… it’s the police that’s not doing its job. The Opposition leader is not the problem. It’s the puppet commissioner of police who is the problem.”

Busuttil also said that he had told MPs they should not develop any property outside development zones, while defending Nationalist MP Toni Bezzina’s ODZ villa application as legal and regular.

“It was not a furtive application, otherwise he would have done the planning application in somebody else’s name,” Busuttil said.

Indeed, he used his wife’s name, Bugeja interjected.

“Which he signed as architect,” Busuttil said. “I expect high standards from politicians, and he accepted to stop the application.” 

More in National