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Watch: Nexia BT’s Karl Cini avoids Panama questions

Main contact person with Mossack Fonseca remains silent

Video: Chris Sant Fournier

Nexia BT partner Karl Cini refused to answer a series of questions today about his role in the opening of secret Panama companies for Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister's chief of staff Keith Schembri.

Leaked e-mails from the Panama Papers show that Mr Cini was Nexia BT’s main contact person with Mossack Fonseca when it came to the opening of these secret structures for the two top government officials.

Watch: Many questions, few answers from Brian Tonna

Asked today how he failed to identify the potential money-laundering risk of opening up Panama companies for politically exposed persons, Mr Cini refused to comment.

‘Politically exposed persons’ is a legal term referring to politicians and other high-ranking officials who pose an increased money-laundering risk to institutions doing business with them.

Testifying before the Pana committee last February, Dr Mizzi claimed that Mr Cini had confused him with Mr Schembri in his correspondence with Mossack Fonseca.

MEPs had asked Dr Mizzi why Nexia BT e-mails showed he had set up his Panama company to extract profits from waste recycling in China, India and the Middle East.

Dr Mizzi replied that it was the result of confusion on the part of Nexia BT.

Asked to confirm this mistake, Mr Cini remained silent.

Mr Cini also ignored questions about whether it was standard practice for Nexia BT to do business with PEPs.

He also refused to say if he thought Nexia BT’s dealings were damaging Malta’s reputation.

Mr Cini refused to say how Nexia BT did not know Dr Mizzi’s and Mr Schembri’s New Zealand trusts had to be registered with the local authorities.

E-mails send by Mr Cini show that he gave the go-ahead to open up two accounts for Dr Mizzi’s and Mr Schembri's Panama companies, which would have required annual deposits of close to $1 million.

Both Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri have said that the accounts were never opened.

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