Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri advisors had filled bank account opening forms for Panama companies

New Panama Papers leak shows that just nine days before the existence of their Panama companies was revealed by Daphne Caruana Galizia, Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri were trying to open bank accounts with a bank in the Bahamas

Keith Schembri listed his job as 'advisor at the Office of the Prime Minister' in a bank account opening form in 2016
Keith Schembri listed his job as 'advisor at the Office of the Prime Minister' in a bank account opening form in 2016

Keith Schembri had filled an application form to open a bank account in Bahamas just nine days before Daphne Caruana Galizia revealed the existence of his and Konrad Mizzi’s Panama companies, fresh documents show.

Schembri’s advisor, Nexia BT, was communicating with Mossack Fonseca to open the bank accounts for its clients, documents published on Thursday morning by the Times of Malta as part of a fresh leak from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists show.

The bank account opening form published by the Times of Malta for Winterbotham Trust Company Ltd in Bahamas lists Schembri as “an advisor at the Office of the Prime Minister” but does not include a check mark next to the box asking whether he is a politically exposed person.

The form is dated 13 February 2016 and the first instalment on Caruana Galizia’s Running Commentary, in which she hinted at the existence of New Zealand Trusts for Schembri and Mizzi was published on 22 February.

Email exchanges between Nexia BT and Mossack Fonseca on the bank account opening process for Schembri and Mizzi continued, at least until 17 February. The process seems to have stopped in its tracks after Caruana Galizia's revelation.

Mizzi has always claimed that his company never had a bank account and the process to open one was part of the service offered by Nexia BT and he never authorised for such account to be opened.

A previous leak, as part of the Daphne Project, had revealed how the target clients for the Panama companies belonging to Schembri and Mizzi, were Dubai-based 17 Black and Macbridge.

Schembri had confirmed the two companies were included in draft business plans but denied ever carrying out any trade with them. He has refused to divulge who the ultimate beneficial owner of both companies is.

An investigation by the Financial Investigation Analysis Unit had shown how 17 Black received more than €1 million in deposits from two companies, one of which was linked to the gas power station’s floating storage unit.

The new ICIJ revelations indicate that at the time of the Panama Papers leak, investigative authorities in Panama probed Schembri’s and Mizzi’s company set ups. Similar probes happened in New Zealand, where the pair opened trusts. The only assets held by the trusts where the shares of the Panama companies.

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