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17 Black: Why no action against Mizzi and Schembri?

FIAU knew about 17 Black since February

KONRAD-MIZZI-PANAMA-HAT
Photo: Daphne Caruana Galizia / Running Commentary

Socialist MEP Ana Gomes called on the Maltese authorities to explain the reason why no action was taken against Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri in relation to 17 Black, a ‘target client’ of the Panama companies they both owned.

In a tweet, Gomes pointed out that the Maltese authorities had received information in February from the Latvian authorities about the Dubai firm and its payments relevant to Mizzi and Schembri.

The owner of 17Black could be a very important piece in the corruption puzzle.

A recently discovered set of emails in the Panama Papers had shown 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.

In a recent article in the EU Observer, PN MEP David Casa referred to a Daphne Project revelation that showed that Schembri and Mizzi were planning to receive $150,000 per month into their once-secret Panamanian companies from this company.

Casa argued that such huge funds would necessarily originate from a project big enough to fuel such big recurrent payments.

Three months ago, Magistrate Francesco Depasquale ordered an inquiry and concluded that Mizzi, Schembri and Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna and Karl Cini have a case to answer on allegations of bribery, attempted money laundering and false declarations to public authorities in relation to 17 Black.

Gomes said the Latvian financial unit gave the Maltese Financial Intelligence Audit Unit on 17 Black three days after the request was made. Gomes queried why no action was taken.

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. The transactions were flagged by the US financial intelligence unit as suspicious of money laundering.

While Mizzi claimed all along that the firms were not planning to do any business, Schembri had earlier confirmed that 17 Black and MacBridge were discussed as potential clients of the firms.

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