The Tourism Ministry rejected a request under the Freedom of Information Act to supply a list of all contracts given to audit firm Nexia BT.

Nexia BT was used by Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi to set up a secret company in Panama together with the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri.

Nationalist MEP David Casa has urged the Accountancy Board to investigate Nexia BT to protect the integrity of the accountancy profession.

The audit firm has benefitted from over €1 million in government contracts since Labour returned to power in March 2013.

Read: Nexia BT gets €130,000 in direct orders from Mizzi-led entity

The Times of Malta has reported that when headed by Dr Mizzi, the Energy Ministry had awarded Nexia BT 24 contracts worth over €570,000 between March and May 2016. Dr Mizzi took over at the Tourism Ministry in June 2017.

It does not constitute a valid request

An FOI request asking for a list of all contracts given to Nexia BT by the ministry was rejected on the basis that no specific document held by the Tourism Ministry had been requested. “The request cannot therefore be acceded to since it does not constitute a valid request for access to an identifiable document,” the ministry said.

A subsequent complaint filed by the Times of Malta was also rejected. In the complaint, this paper pointed out that the ministry would undoubtedly have documentation about the contracts awarded to Nexia BT, which could be used to compile the requested information.

The ministry replied it had nothing to add to its original refusal.

Read: €735,000 in OPM contracts to Panama Papers firm

The Panama Papers leaks revealed Nexia BT to be at the centre of a plan to net Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri €150,000 each month through their Panama companies. Nexia’s Brian Tonna is known to be a close associate of Mr Schembri.

Despite the firm coming in for heavy criticism after the Panama Papers, the Prime Minister’s Office continued to rely heavily on its advisory services, even after Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had said Nexia BT gave Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri bad advice on their Panama companies.

Only last year, Nexia BT was given a €80,000 direct order for advisory services on all projects of national importance.

Mr Tonna, together with other Nexia BT employees, were appointed to the committee that selected Electrogas to build the new power station.

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