The Panama Papers scandal is the mother of all corruption cases which continues to haunt Joseph Muscat’s Government till this day, Beppe Fenech Adami told the PANA committee today.
The PANA committee is in Malta to investigate the Panama Papers scandal, which brought to light the fact that Minister Konrad Mizzi and OPM chief of staff opened companies in Panama.
The full declaration of Beppe Fenech Adami is as follows:
I am Beppe Fenech Adami – the Deputy Leader for Party Affairs of the Partit Nazzjonalista – the Opposition Party in Malta and member of the EPP group.
I have been involved in politics for many years. I contested the first general election on the Partit Nazzjonalista (EPP) ticket in 2008 and was elected. I also contested the General Election of 2013 and was elected for a second mandate.
During the 2008-2013 legislature, wherein my Party was in Government, I was a back bench part-time Member of Parliament continuing with my practice as a lawyer like all other members of parliament in Malta who are all part-timers. In Malta, MPs who are not members of the Executive are part-timers and are able to continue practising their private profession. In my case this is the legal profession. At no point in time was I a member of the Executive, whether as Minister or as Parliamentary Secretary. I was never a Cabinet member and throughout the period that my Party was in Government I did not occupy any executive post.
In March 2010 I was appointed by then Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi as a Parliamentary Assistant in the Ministry for Home Affairs. The post of a Parliamentary Assistant is not an executive post, and in all the period I occupied this post till March 2013 I did not exercise any executive power.
Following my Party’s defeat in the 2013 general election, I contested and won the election for the post of Deputy Leader of Partit Nazzjonalista – a post which I occupy till today. I am also the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs.
As you may well be informed, I am a vocal critic of the present Government in particular with regard to the innumerable cases of corruption that have plagued this Government since coming to power in 2013. Throughout my political career I have fought against corruption. I have taken strong positions against any form of abuse and political wrong doing. Because I have been an outspoken government critic I have been the target of coordinated attacks by the government and its mouthpieces, even in the European Parliament, in an attempt to tarnish my name and reputation. Just last week the Maltese Courts condemned the Labour Party’s media for unsubstantiated lies about me.
I am proud that my Party is leading the fight against corruption in Malta. The last four years have been tarnished by one Government corruption scandal after the other. Scandals range from payments of millions of Euro from public funds to bail out private companies close to Government, disposal of public land in favour of the Labour Party in Malta valued at ten million euro, the employment in public posts of inner circle friends, including the spouses of Government Ministers without public calls, secret trips to Azerbaijan during which deals were struck in oil purchase which resulted in losses of millions of euro, the issuance of thousands of visas and residence permits through fraudulent means, the illicit payment of millions of euro for unauthorized works in the educational sector and many other cases.
Today, according to your programme, you were scheduled to interview Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri. These two persons epitomize all that is wrong with Malta’s corrupt Government.
These two very close and hand-picked friends of Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, had the gall to start the process to register their Panama companies just a few days after being elected into power in 2013. They were caught when the existence of these companies was revealed in the Panama Papers. Malta is the only European country which has a sitting minister that was caught red-handed with a company in Panama.
Subsequent to the setting up of these companies, Minister Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri sought to open bank accounts on behalf of the said companies committing themselves to annual cash flows of close to one million dollars coming from ‘consultancies and commissions’. All this when the Minister is barred from any private practice whilst in office and the Chief of Staff had declared that he had divested himself of any commercial interests he had.
From the very day this scandal broke out, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has defended his two close friends. The Prime Minister is aware that the involvement of his Minister and his Chief of Staff in companies in Panama has tarnished his Government’s reputation and more importantly the international reputation of Malta as a serious financial services centre.
This is the mother of all corruption cases which continues to haunt Joseph Muscat’s Government till this day.
My Party is today at the forefront of the fight against corruption and our Party Leader Simon Busuttil, has publicly called for the formation of a coalition against corruption.
We are determined to continue to expose Malta’s present Government as the most corrupt Government in the history of Malta. Only yesterday thousands of people were out in the streets protesting against corruption which is now threatening our freedom and democracy, including blatant attacks on the freedom of expression and of the media.
We are convinced that come next election, in a few months’ time, the Maltese people will vote this corrupt administration out of power. On my part I will continue to fight for transparency and good governance.
I would like to thank you for your attention and I am at your disposal to reply to your questions.