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Magistrate says 17 Black probe should continue... but not as a separate inquiry

Decision shows Busuttil, Casa wasting courts' time - PL

The email showing the main target client being 17 Black Ltd.

The email showing the main target client being 17 Black Ltd.

Last updated 4.37 pm with PN reaction

A magistrate has upheld a request for a probe into the Daphne Project revelations that $1.6 million was wired to a "target client" of Panama companies owned by Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.

However, Magistrate Francesco Depasquale found that although there was enough evidence for a magisterial inquiry into the revelations, he ruled that it would not make sense to have a separate inquiry since there was already a similar money laundering magisterial inquiry under way, being conducted by Magistrate Ian Farrugia.

Magistrate Depasquale therefore ordered that all the documentation and evidence passed on in this latest request be sent to Magistrate Farrugia to be seen in the context of the first inquiry. 

The request was made by former Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil and MEP David Casa who had filed a court application seeking to have Mr Schembri and Dr Mizzi subjected to a magisterial inquiry.

In their application, the two said that the revelations were a "clear example" of money laundering and corruption and must be investigated by the courts.

Read: $1.6m wired to Mizzi and Schembri's Panama 'target client'

The Times of Malta report revealed how Dubai-registered company 17 Black received two separate payments totalling $1.6 million between July and November 2015, and that an email sent from Nexia BT's Karl Cini to Mossack Fonseca just one month later, in December, listed 17 Black as a "target client" of Mr Schembri and Dr Mizzi's secret Panama companies.

The companies, Mr Cini indicated, would generate around $2 million a year.

Mr Schembri reacted to the report by acknowledging that 17 Black had been a "potential client" and had been included in draft business plans for his group, but that that plan had never come to fruition and that no transactions were ever recorded with the company or with himself personally.

LABOUR: COURT'S CONDEMNATION OF BUSUTTIL, CASA

In a statement, the Labour Party said the court's decision amounted to a strong condemnation of Simon Busuttil and David Casa's actions.

They had been found to be seeking to "hinder the efficient running of the investigation". 

The court had dismissed their request to appoint an inquiry since this would have been a repetition of another investigation that was already under way. In the words of the magistrate, this would have led to "a waste of resources and a hindrance to the efficient running of the investigation".

Through their actions, Dr Busuttil and Mr Casa were hindering the judicial process, the PL said.

The magistrate himself had said it would not be in the interests of justice to have double or triple work on the same investigation of actions based on the same facts.

It was clear, the PL said, that Dr Busuttil and Mr Casa were seeking to waste the courts' time to delay decisions. 

 

 

PN: SECOND TIME A COURT DECIDED THERE SHOULD BE AN INVESTIGATION

The Nationalist Party said this was the second time that a court had concluded that minister Konrad Mizzi and chief of staff Keith Schembri should be investigated.

In a statement over the signature of Simon Busuttil and David Casa, the party recalled that last July Magistrate Ian Farrugia also concluded that the two should be investigated. 

The people now expected that the prime minister to stop defending them and let the investigation proceed.

The people expected to know the truth, and Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri should therefore drop their appeal to stop the investigation, the PN said.    

 

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