Watch: Prime Minister's top aide now figures in three separate inquiries
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Watch: Prime Minister's top aide now figures in three separate inquiries

In 2017, Muscat had said Keith Schembri would 'resign immediately' if criminally investigated

Dr Muscat said his chief of staff would step down immediately if he came under criminal investigation.

Updated at 7.20pm

The Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri now figures in three separate magisterial inquiries into potential money-laundering and kickbacks, including one involving the latest 17 Black revelations.

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici confirmed in Parliament on Monday that the police requested an inquiry into Dubai company 17 Black “several weeks ago”.

17 Black is the subject of a criminal investigation by the police, after an FIAU report identifying power station investor Yorgen Fenech as its owner was handed to the Economic Crimes Unit earlier this year, The Sunday Times of Malta reported last week.

The main subject of the report is Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, sources have confirmed.

This FIAU report delves into Dr Mizzi’s energy deals and a leaked e-mail linking his and Mr Schembri’s Panama companies to 17 Black.

The e-mail showed Mr Schembri and Dr Mizzi planned to receive payments of $2 million from 17 Black and another company of unknown ownership called Macbridge.

In an interview days prior to the June 2017 election, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said Mr Schembri would resign if faced with a criminal investigation.

“Keith Schembri already said that if he is the subject of any criminal investigation, he will resign from any position he has. This is my crystal clear position”, Dr Muscat said when asked about his chief of staff.

Dr Muscat has fended off calls for Mr Schembri’s resignation in light of the 17 Black findings.

Apart from the 17 Black probe, Mr Schembri is also facing two other magisterial inquiries.

One inquiry is looking into an FIAU report detailing a suspected kickback of €100,000 that Mr Schembri took on passport sales by Nexia BT’s managing partner Brian Tonna.

The other inquiry is probing offshore payments totalling $600,000 made by Mr Schembri to Allied Newspaper’s former managing director Adrian Hillman.

'Investigations are into 17 Black allegations' - OPM

Asked on Tuesday why Mr Schembri was still in office despite the Prime Minister's televised pledge in 2017, an OPM spokesman said that the latest investigation concerned allegations regarding 17 Black. 

"Only such investigations can establish the veracity of these allegations and determine whether, or not, there are any grounds to proceed to the indictment of criminal prosecution," the spokesman said, adding that the Prime Minister had consistently said he would await the outcome of investigations. 

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