Updated 8.07pm - Added video

Documents presented to MEPs investigating the Panama Papers leak "would seem to point to potential money laundering, but we do not have documentary evidence of this," Pana committee chairman Werner Langen said this evening. 

"We will have to dig deeper into it," the German EPP member said. 

Mr Langen and fellow committee member Jeppe Kofod were addressing the press at the end of a day-long fact-finding meeting which involved meetings with politicians, financial services officials, police and journalists.  

Both Mr Langen and Mr Kofod repeatedly insisted that the committee was not interested in digging into local partisan political issues and that it was too early to reach conclusions or make recommendations. 

They nevertheless said that their meetings had indicated that more investigation into Malta's taxation system and the role intermediaries played was warranted. 

Mr Kofod said it was good that Dr Mizzi had appeared before the committee. "He gave us an explanation we can take home," he said. 

Schembri declined invitation at 2pm today

Mr Langen expressed frustration that the Prime Minister's chief of staff Keith Schembri had informed the committee that he would not be accepting their invitation by hand-delivering a letter to them in the street at 2pm today. 

The committee chairman noted that the Pana Committee had informed Mr Schembri of its intention to question him on January 26. 

The EPP MEP expressed outrage that Mr Schembri had questioned the committee's mandate, saying the remarks were "a scandal". 

A worrying closeness between public and private interests on both sides of the political fence.- Greens MEP Sven Giegold

"It is not possible for us to accept this," the German MEP said. "We have a large mandate from the European Parliament."

Asked what would have happened if a sitting minister in his German homeland had been caught with an offshore structure, Mr Langen was succinct. 

"I find it hard to imagine that after a year the government would still be in the same situation," he said. 

READ: Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri publish audit opinions

Greens MEP Sven Giegold told the press that today's meetings suggested a "worrying closeness" between public and private interests in Malta "on both sides of the political fence". 

S&D MEP Ana Gomes told the Times of Malta that today's meetings had confirmed her "worst fears" about Malta, and added that she had presented the her fellow committee members with specific cases where Maltese corporations had been used by Politically Exposed Persons "to direct money from corruption." 

Pana Committee meetings

The Pana Committee's much-anticipated meeting with Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Konrad Mizzi saw Dr Mizzi accuse committee members of lacking objectivity and insisting that he had been targeted by journalists as part of a "coordinated attack...orchestrated by the Nationalist Party." 

Video: Steve Zammit Lupi

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna, Nationalist Party deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami, top Malta Financial Services Authority officials, including chairman Joe Bannister and former Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit chief Manfred Galdes were among those interviewed by the Pana Committee today. 

This morning's meetings were held at the European Parliament's offices in Valletta. 

'Oh Mr Mizzi, you're a hard man to find'

Alternattiva Demokratika activists wearing Konrad Mizzi face masks staged a silent protest outside Parliament as MEPs walked in.

Greens MEP Sven Giegold, accompanied by AD chairman Arnold Cassola, shook hands with activists while sarcastically saying "Oh Mr Mizzi, you're a hard man to find."

READ: 'We own Egrant', claims financial services firm Nexia BT

Dr Mizzi, who was stripped of his energy portfolio after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists' Panama Papers leak revealed that he had opened a secret company in an offshore jurisdiction, is one of the highest-profile individuals to appear before the committee to date. 

AD activists hold up placards as Pana Committee member Sven Giegold enters parliament. Photo: Kurt SansoneAD activists hold up placards as Pana Committee member Sven Giegold enters parliament. Photo: Kurt Sansone

'Skype call reference had nothing to do with Egrant' - Nexia BT

Mr Schembri was not the only person to decline the committee's invitation to meet. Nexia BT accountants Brian Tonna and Karl Cini, who set up the offshore companies for Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri and who have claimed ownership of a mystery third company called Egrant Inc., also turned down an invitation to appear before the committee and said they would answer questions in writing.

In a statement, Mr Tonna reiterated that Egrant was a shelf company that "has never had, and does not currently have, any client as ultimate beneficial owner, and it has never been active." 

Mr Tonna argued that a leaked email which purported to suggest that his partner Mr Cini had asked to disclose Egrant's ultimate beneficial owner over Skype had been misconstrued. 

"The email in question was sent in connection with an enquiry by a client, which enquiry fell through. It was unrelated to Egrant Inc. In fact, the email makes no mention of Egrant Inc.," Mr Tonna said in a statement. 

Former PN minister Ninu Zammit also absent 

Mr Giegold said it was disappointing that Mr Schembri, Mr Tonna and Mr Cini had turned down the committee's invitations, and said he hoped they would find time to meet with MEPs at some point in the future.  

The Greens MEP also noted that former PN minister Ninu Zammit, who was named in the Swiss Leaks data dump, had also not answered the committee's invitation.

"This is a clear violation of good cooperation with our parliament," Mr Giegold said as he argued it was "not acceptable" for invitees to ignore the committee's requests.  

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