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‘Mizzi and Schembri’s plan to rake in $150,000 every month’

“Two years have passed and we are still fighting for an investigation to start” – PN MP Simon Busuttil

17 black

Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri had a plan to rake in $150,000 every month from a deal with ties to the power station, PN MP Simon Busuttil said in Parliament on Monday when he questioned where the money was now going.

Speaking during adjournment time on Monday evening, the former PN Leader referred to the decision by magistrate Francesco Depasquale to uphold a request made by Busuttil and PN MEP David Casa for an inquiry into revelations that $1.6 million was wired to a ‘target client’ of Panama companies owned by Mizzi and Schembri.

The magistrate concluded that four people – Schembri and Mizzi, as well as Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna and Karl Cini – have to a case to answer on allegations of bribery, attempted money laundering and false declarations to public authorities.

Busuttil pointed out that this was the second time that a magistrate had decided that Mizzi, Schembri, Tonna and Cini should be investigated over their dealings. Magistrate Ian Farrugia had reached the same conclusion last July.

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17 Black inquiry ordered by magistrate

A newly discovered set of emails in the Panama Papers showed that the offshore firms of Mizzi and Schembri were planning to have two Dubai firms, called 17 Black and Macbridge, become “main target clients” — meaning they planned to do business with them.

The team behind the Daphne Project found that the two Dubai companies received unexplained payments of US$ 1.6 million from an offshore company in the Seychelles owned by an Azerbaijani national. The transactions were flagged by the US financial intelligence unit as suspicious of money laundering.

A further $200,000 payment was wired to 17 Black by Orion Engineering, a company owned by the local agent for the tanker that supplies gas to the Delimara power station, according to the report by Malta’s anti-money laundering agency (FIAU).

FIAU investigators did not manage to uncover information about the people behind 17 Black.

“This was their plan to rake in $150,000 every month,” Busuttil said in parliament. “Who owns 17 Black? They know.”

He stressed the deal had ties to the power station, and there was “no doubt” about their plan. The increase in water and electricity bills was linked to this corrupt deal, Busuttil said.

“Where’s this $150,000 every month going now?” he added.

Busuttil called on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to carry political responsibility, which he said was different to criminal responsibility. The first, Busuttil said, did not need to wait for the second.

“Criminal responsibility will be investigated in a court inquiry, if only Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri stop trying to block it. Until then, there is absolutely no reason why political responsibility should not be shouldered now,” Busuttil said.

“Two years have passed, and we are still fighting for an investigation to start,” he said.

He stressed that Muscat had not only failed to take action over the last two years but actively stalled the launch of investigations.

Simon Busuttil and David Casa

UPDATED: 17 Black inquiry ordered by magistrate

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