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Pana Committee asks PM, Schembri to appear in June

Scandals 'harming' image of Malta, EU

The European Parliament’s Panama Committee has issued a fresh invitation to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his chief of staff, Keith Schembri, to appear before it in late June, the Times of Malta is informed.

The session will be held in Brussels.

A committee spokesman said that since both the Prime Minister and Mr Schembri declined to appear in front of MEPs to testify about their involvement in the Panama Papers scandal, it was decided they would be called again.

“It is not acceptable for the Prime Minister and, particularly, his chief of staff not to appear in front of the European Parliament. This especially when Dr Muscat is the president-in-office of the European Council,” the spokesman said.

We hope he would make it this time round

“Since we would still need to ask for explanations from Dr Muscat, we will now call him again after the election [in Malta]. We hope he would make it this time round,” he said.

During a visit to Malta last February, the Panama Committee met the Minister Within the Office of the Prime Minister, Konrad Mizzi, the only EU minister found to have a Panama company. Mr Schembri had refused to appear and challenged the legitimacy of the investigative committee.

Ana Gomes, vice chairwoman of the Pana Committee and the lead MEP from the Socialist Group in the committee, said Mr Schembri’s attitude was offensive to the European Parliament and that was why Dr Muscat was now being summoned.

“It was very offensive on Mr Schembri's part to challenge the committee instead of appearing before it. Since the Prime Minister was not able to intervene and order his chief of staff to attend, we now expect Dr Muscat himself to explain,” she said.

Ms Gomes said the news arriving at the European Parliament with regard to Malta “is very worrying”.

“All these scandals relating to Panama are harming Malta’s image and also that of the EU,” she added.

“We are very concerned about the systems, or the apparent lack of them, to prevent the island from being used for activities of money laundering and proceeds of crime. We cannot let this go. This is not only about Malta but about the EU as a whole.”

 

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