In saying that Peter Grech is a disgrace, I believe I’m being mild. I write this after reflecting on the facts known to me and those in the public domain pertaining to what can only be described as Grech’s dereliction of duties and irresponsible tolerance of money laundering involving members of government.

I write this with a heavy heart, angry and disgusted.

What was until recently only a perception that the Attorney General deliberately allowed serious indications of criminal activity to go unchecked and ignored has now morphed into cast iron conviction.

Grech has to go. There is no escaping it.

I will limit myself to two reasons about which I can write publicly, the first of which has been known for some weeks.

The first reason is the Constitutional Court decision of last month. In a landmark judgement, it was held that the Attorney General breached the fundamental human rights of the leader of the Opposition. Please note that it was not the AG’s client – the government – that had done this (an advocate does not normally bear the blame for his client’s acts and omissions) but the AG himself. This finding by the court describes no mean feat on the part of the Attorney General.

The court found he intentionally handed over the Egrant inquiry report of more than 1,500 pages, lock stock and barrel to the prime minister in less than 24 hours from its receipt.

Such action has been publicly criticised by a former chief justice and former judge in the European Court of Human Rights as having been “utterly irresponsible”.  That alone should have led any decent public officer to hand in his resignation.

What was until recently only a perception... has now morphed into cast iron conviction

Grech is the first Attorney General in our legal history – from a long list of respectable, scrupulous holders of the office of Attorney General – to be found responsible for having himself breached the fundamental human rights of others.

It bears repetition: he was not found thus guilty as the representative of government, as is the norm in human rights cases. No. He was censured in his personal capacity, as it was he and he alone who denied the Opposition the equal playing field he is duty bound by law to ensure.

The second reason is equally, if not more, excruciatingly damning.

To the utter shock of those of us present for the public inquiry sitting of Monday, January 20, during the public part of the testimony of the former director of the FIAU, we heard confirmation of what I have been writing and asking about in Parliament for the last four years.

It is now known beyond doubt that the Attorney General did not initiate any action (which the law allows only him to take) to ask the Criminal Court to issue attachment and investigative orders in terms of anti-money laundering law.

The law allows – more properly mandates – the Attorney General, and only him, to request the Criminal Court, “where (he) has reasonable cause to suspect that a person is guilty of the offence (of attempted/money laundering), … [to] apply to the Criminal Court for an investigation order that a person… named in the order who appears to be in possession of particular material or material of a particular description which is likely to be of substantial value... to the investigation of, or in connection with, the suspect, [to] produce or grant access to such material to the person or persons indicated in the order; and the person or persons so indicated shall, by virtue of the investigation order, have the power to enter any house, building or other enclosure for the purpose of searching for such material”.

Moreover, the law provides that: “Together with  or  separately  from  an  application  for  an investigation order, the Attorney General may apply to the Criminal Court for an ‘attachment order’ (a) attaching  in  the  hands  of  such  persons… as are mentioned in the application all moneys and other movable property due or pertaining or belonging to the suspect; (b) requiring  the  garnishee  to  declare  in  writing  to  the Attorney  General,  not  later  than  24  hours from the time of service of the order, the nature and source of all money and other movable property so attached; and (c) prohibiting the suspect from transferring or otherwise disposing of any movable or immovable property”.

These actions, lawful by their own definition, do not cause any irreparable harm to anyone. They would have preserved crucial, incriminating evidence involving the chief of staff of the former prime minister, minister Konrad Mizzi and Nexia BT, at the very least. They would have had the effect of reversing the tide of criminality and impunity that many believe led to the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Grech did nothing of the above, notwithstanding his power to do so and his obligations in that regard.

Indeed, last summer, I filed a court request on behalf of Repubblika in front of the inquiring magistrate to order the Attorney General to at least request the issue of such orders in terms of the law he was duty bound to apply in connection with the corruption of the hospital VGH deeds.

Grech had vehemently opposed such “an interference in his discretion”. What are we to make of this vehement put-down? That Grech went out of his way to facilitate the money laundering and the corruption being perpetrated by the Panama gang? I hope not, but the question must be asked. 

Is the answer that Grech did not want Schembri and Mizzi to have any interference in their nefarious behaviour? Again, I hope not, but the question must be asked.

Whatever his reasons, however, it is no wonder he wanted the FIAU to be “business friendly”.

Jason Azzopardi is a Nationalist MP.

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