The European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion, known as PANA, is holding a string of meetings in Malta today to interview, among others, No Portfolio Minister Konrad Mizzi following revelations that he had secretly opened a company in Panama.
Dr Mizzi was the only serving minister in the European Union to be named in the Panama Papers, 11.5 million documents published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that detail financial and attorney-client information for more than 214,488 offshore entities.
The minister will be appearing before the committee in the afternoon. It is not yet known whether OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri, who was also invited to meet the committee, will take up the invitation.
Sven Giegold, the Greens’ representative on the PANA committee, said that until this morning Mr Schembri has not given notice of his intentions.
Mr Giegold said that “it is not acceptable that an acting member of the government does not confirm his participation in an inquiry of the European Parliament. Greens will insist that everyone who fails to appear will be invited for another meeting of PANA in Brussels. Furthermore: I call on Brian Tonna and Nexia BT to provide written proof of the beneficial owner of Egrant on Monday. This is the best way to lift any doubts,” he said.
The long list of meetings will start this morning with journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia, Ivan Camilleri, Matthew Vella and Aleander Balzan, and will follow with Finance Minister Edward Scicluna.
Nationalist Party deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami will also be meeting the committee. Dr Manfred Galdes, the former Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit Chief who stepped down in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal, will also be interviewed.
Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna and Karl Cini have declined the invitation to meet the committee, but said they will give answers in writing. Nexia BT had designed Mizzi and Schembri’s offshore structures, with their companies in Panama and their trusts in New Zealand that were set up soon after the 2013 general election, only to be exposed further down the line through the leak of the Panama Papers.
Brian Tonna is claiming to be the owner of Egrant, a third company that was set up together with those of Mizzi (Hearnville) and Schembri (Tillgate). The Nationalist Party said that Mr Tonna’s declaration cannot be believed, and published an email sent by Karl Cini in which it is said that the Ultimate Beneficial Owner of Egrant will not be Nexia BT but an individual whose details were to be given via Skype.
When asked to clarify in view of the signed letter by a Mossack Fonseca employee which states Brian Tonna owns Egrant, Mr Giegold said he would be more convinced by the document of establishment (of the company).