German police to deliver Panama Papers to Maltese magistrate

Panama Papers data is to be handed over to Magistrate Anthony Vella, to evaluate any possible links to the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder

German police will pass on a cache of Panama Papers data to the magistrate leading the inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, German sources told MaltaToday.

The information will be handed over by the German federal crime police (BKA) to Magistrate Anthony Vella, who will evaluate the data for any possible links to the Caruana Galizia murder.

However, MaltaToday has learnt that for a thorough inquiry into Panama Papers it is very likely Vella will pass on the information to another magistrate.

Former energy minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief-of-staff Keith Schembri had been mentioned in Panama Papers after they opened offshore companies in the Central American state soon after the 2013 election.

MaltaToday was informed that Vella is likely to emulate what magistrate Aaron Bugeja did earlier this year at the height of the election campaign.

Bugeja was investigating the accusations that the Prime Minister’s wife owned Egrant, a Panama company, when he received a fresh set of allegations concerning kickbacks paid to Schembri over the cash for passport scheme. Both allegations have been vehemently denied.

Bugeja had said the kickback allegations did not fall within the remit of the Egrant investigation and passed these on to another magistrate. Both inquiries are still pending.

The BKA paid over €5 million for the Panama Papers information in a bid to investigate possible tax evasion by German citizens.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung revealed last Sunday that the data concerning Malta was being passed on by the BKA.

In an immediate reaction to the news, the Nationalist Party called on the Maltese government to appoint an independent inquiry to handle the cache of Panama Papers data. The party said the data should be sealed and investigated through an independent inquiry.

“As we stated many times before, the PN has no trust in the Commissioner of Police and so insists that an inquiry is led by people who have everybody’s trust, three retired judges, whose appointment is carried out in agreement with the Opposition under the Inquiries Act,” the PN said.

There has been no reaction so far from the government to the news and the PN’s request.

Panama Papers was a data leak from the firm Mossack Fonseca to German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung in 2016. It included emails, financial spreadsheets, passports, and corporate records relating to the ownership of bank accounts and companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions and covered a 40-year period, through to the end of 2015. In Malta, it was Caruana Galizia who lifted the lid on Mizzi’s and Schembri’s involvement, a full month before Panama Papers started making headlines worldwide.

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