Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar did not answer the questions posed by Panama Committee members yesterday. It was a senior economic crimes unit officer who replied, this newspaper has learnt.
Sources from the European Parliament said that after reading a short formal speech on the role of the police in tax and money-laundering investigations, Mr Cutajar asked Police Inspector Ian Abdilla from the economic crimes unit, who had accompanied him, to reply to the questions from the MEPs.
When the committee members asked whether the police had received a report by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit about the companies set up by the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, and the Minster Within the Office of the Prime Minister, Konrad Mizzi, and whether they had been investigated on the strength of the FIAU report, Mr Cutajar asked Mr Abdilla to reply. However, the latter said he could not speak on specific cases.
WATCH: 'We will have to dig deeper' into Konrad Mizzi claims, Pana Committee chair says
Mr Abdilla, who is the police liaison officer with the FIAU, said there was no need for an FIAU report or a media outcry to investigate wrongdoing. The police were duty bound to investigate whenever there was suspicion of a crime.
He that said whenever the police knew of an ongoing investigation by the FIAU on a case, they would not intervene and normally awaited the outcome of the FIAU probe before proceeding. The police would only act when crime was involved.
Even the FIAU representative was circumspect in his replies to the MEPs and would not even say whether a report about Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri had been drawn up and passed on to the police.
The unit’s acting director, Alfred Zammit, said that the law precluded him from divulging any information on specific cases under investigation. The FIAU did not publish its reports but passed them to the police if a crime was suspected, he said.
Mr Zammit said 2016 had been a record year in terms of the number of reports about suspicious breaches of financial rules, including money laundering. He attributed the increase to more awareness of the rules.
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