Watch: Police did not speak to me on 17 Black – Mizzi
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Watch: Police did not speak to me on 17 Black – Mizzi

Minister sticks to claims that there were no plans linking him to secret company

Dr Mizzi said police had not been in touch. Video: Chris Sant Fournier

Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi said on Tuesday that the police had not contacted him in the course of their investigations into the Dubai company 17 Black.

Replying to questions by the Times of Malta, Dr Mizzi said he had given evidence in past inquiries and what he said would always be consistent with the truth.

A court on Tuesday upheld an appeal by top government officials, including Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his chief of staff, Keith Schembri, and Dr Mizzi, to block a wide-ranging magisterial inquiry into their involvement in the Panama Papers scandal (see page 6). The inquiry had been requested by then Opposition leader Simon Busuttil in June 2017.

Dr Mizzi spoke to the Times of Malta before the court decision was announced.

He said past claims about him having received kickbacks  from Azerbaijan through Pilatus Bank had been disproved by the Egrant inquiry.

17 Black was identified in a leaked e-mail as one of two potential sources of income for the Panama companies Hearnville and Tillgate, which were set up by Nexia BT for Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri. A joint investigation by Times of Malta and Reuters revealed that 17 Black was owned by power station investor Yorgen Fenech.

A report by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit delving into Dr Mizzi’s energy dealings and identifying Mr Fenech as 17 Black’s owner was handed over to the police for criminal investigation last March, Times of Malta learnt.

Pushed to say why he maintained that he had no link” with 17 Black, despite the e-mail from his own financial advisers showing he planned to have a $1 million link, Dr Mizzi insisted there were no such plans. The authenticity of the e-mail, found in the Panama Papers leak, has, so far, not been contested.

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Mr Schembri had confirmed he had draft business plans” with 17 Black hours after the e-mail was first published in April 2018 by the Times of Malta as part of the Daphne Project. Still, he said he did not know who owned 17 Black and Dr Muscat refused to say whether he demanded more details about the draft plans” from his right-hand man.

Dr Mizzi said the explanation about the e-mail would be very clear” once the inquiry was concluded.

No specific inquiry into Dr Mizzi and 17 Black is under way, as the only magisterial involvement in the case came about after the police requested assistance to send rogatory letters to Dubai and Latvia requesting information about the company’s ownership.

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