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Specific Panama data on both Schembri, Mizzi offered to Maltese authorities

Data should offer insight into efforts to open accounts around the world

Konrad Mizzi (left) and Keith Schembri

Konrad Mizzi (left) and Keith Schembri

Local authorities have been given access to specific Panama Papers data about the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi.

German authorities said in July they had the data and were willing to share it with other countries.

Süddeutsche Zeitung journalist Bastian Obermayer told the Times of Malta the German police had actually offered the data to the local authorities, rather than  being requested it by Malta.

The data should offer insight into Mr Schembri's and Dr Mizzi's efforts to open up bank accounts around the world for their once-secret Panama companies, some of which would have required deposits of close to $1 million.

They will also allow the authorities to see how Mr Schembri and Dr Mizzi’s financial intermediaries Nexia BT said their Panama companies would be used to receive “management consultancy and brokerage” fees.

Nexia BT told the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca that Mr Schembri and Dr Mizzi’s companies would be trading in plastic, paper and aluminium recycling, as well as trade in used tyres.

Panama has just been confirmed as one of 17 countries blacklisted by the EU as a tax haven. A delegation of MEPs last week slammed the Malta police’s unwillingness to investigate these cases. PN MEP David Casa has said he was in possession of a report by the government anti-money laundering agency, which calls for criminal action to be taken against Dr Mizzi.

Asked if there was some suspicion on the part of German police, given the local authorities’ unwillingness to investigate the Panama Papers, Mr Obermayer said this was initially the case.

However, the German police were convinced after a visit by a police representative and a court expert from Malta that the Maltese really wanted to act, Mr Obermayer said.

The Nationalist Party has demanded a full and independent inquiry to investigate the data handed over to the local authorities. Magistrate Aaron Bugeja, who is leading the inquiry into whether the Prime Minister’s wife was the owner of Panama company Egrant, has also requested access to the data.

It is not known whether the data contains any new informat-ion about Egrant, which slainjournalist Daphne Caruana Galizia reported was used to receive the kickbacks.

Egrant was one of three companies acquired by Nexia BT after the March 2013 election. The other two companies, Hearnville and Tillgate, were owned by Mr Schembri and Dr Mizzi.

The two Panama companies were sheltered by two trusts in New Zealand.

Mr Schembri and Dr Mizzi failed to declare these trusts to the local tax authorities.

 

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