Konrad Mizzi to drop libel cases on money laundering allegations

The Tourism Minister said he would be withdrawing the libel suits in light of recent court rulings which rejected allegations of wrongdoing on his part

Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi has said he would be withdrawing libel cases he had started in response to money laundering allegations
Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi has said he would be withdrawing libel cases he had started in response to money laundering allegations

Konrad Mizzi will be withdrawing libel cases he had filed on claims concerning money laundering allegations related to revelations which emerged from the Panama Papers.

The tourism minister said he would not continue to pursue the lawsuits in view of recent court rulings which found he had not been involved in any illegalities.

“By withdrawing distracting libel cases, minister Mizzi can focus greater energy on delivering projects in areas which will continue to provide a significant boost to the economy and to make a positive change to the lives of Maltese families,” the Tourism Ministry said in a statement Wednesday evening.

In a ruling in January, judge Giovanni Grixti upheld an appeal, by Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri, and others, against a previous decision by magistrate Ian Farrugia, who had ruled there was enough evidence for an inquiry into the Panama Papers revelations.

Judge Grixti effectively threw out the request for an investigation into the revelations, which had been initiated by former PN leader Simon Busuttil and MEP David Casa.

Last week, magistrate Francesco Depasquale turned down a fresh request by Busuttil and Casa asking for an inquiry into possible money laundering connected with the 17 Black Dubai company, which was revealed by the Daphne Project consortium last year.

In today’s statement, the Tourism Ministry said that the Criminal Court had determined that the allegations of money laundering in connection with the Panama Papers revelations were "mere speculation”.

“In the absence of evidence (and there is none), the court dismissed Busuttil’s mud slinging as nothing but conjecture,” it said.

“In utmost contempt of the ruling, and disrespecting the Court, Simon Busuttil and David Casa sought further action by the Court of Magistrates. They again asked for an investigation which had just been declared as unwarranted and baseless by the Criminal Court.”

“Not surprisingly, the Court of Magistrates saw through the ploy and dismissed the second request. It declared that there is no uncertainty in the prevailing legal situation - the courts had already decreed conclusively that Busuttil and Casa’s allegations are no valid basis for a criminal inquiry.”

The ministry said that “Busuttil and his acolytes” had sought a platform to remain politically relevant “after a humiliating defeat at the 2017 polls”.

“They have now collected further defeats in the court of laws,” it emphasised.

Despite the “emotional and administrative toll” that defending against “baseless allegations and repelling slander” took on Mizzi, his ministry said he had delivered major change through a number of projects, including the power station shift from fuel oil to gas, and attracting “the largest foreign direct investment into an ailing national energy company, which has now registered profits”.