Former Nationalist minister Michael Falzon has suspended himself from the Nationalist Party and the oil procurement committee after admitting holding an account with HSBC in Switzerland.
In a statement released yesterday, Mr Falzon gave details of an account with €460,000 he opened in Switzerland in the 1980s.
Mr Falzon said all the money in the account was repatriated to Malta after 2008.
“Today I have no money deposited in any Swiss bank or any other foreign bank whatsoever. My fiscal position in Malta was regularised long ago,” he said.
Mr Falzon, an architect, said the money in the account came from payments for “professional activities abroad for foreign clients” carried out before he became a minister in 1987.
Mr Falzon was infrastructure minister in the Nationalist administration of 1987 and was responsible for the building of the Delimara power station.
He said “no moneys originating from Malta or from third parties were ever deposited in this account”.
His name appeared on the HSBC Swiss Leaks list revealed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
Former Enemalta chairman Tancred Tabone has also been shown to have a bank account at HSBC’s private bank branch in Geneva.
The bank has been accused of encouraging clients to evade taxes in their home country by using Switzerland’s secretive bank culture to exploit legal loopholes.
‘All money is now in Malta’
Mr Falzon said that between 1975 and 1985 he was involved with other Maltese professionals in an architectural and civil engineering consultancy providing services abroad.
“These services were provided under the aegis of a Maltese registered company of which I was shareholder and director.
“The first big job that this company worked on had been entrusted to it in partnership with a Swiss architectural firm. This necessitated frequent visits to Switzerland and the opening of bank accounts to which funds were effected by the Swiss partners and eventually to the Maltese company.”
When the company was liquidated, Mr Falzon said he decided to retain a Swiss account in his name “considering the political situation in Malta” between 1985 and 1987.
“In about 2002 I decided to transfer the account to HSBC Genève and some six years later the money was again transferred to another bank. The amount of money in this account was circa €460,000,” he said.
Mr Falzon said he was suspending himself from all political activities within the PN and withdrawing from his position as observer on the oil procurement committee.
He insisted the bank account had no connection with his past political activities.
Reacting to the revelation, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said those involved in the Swiss Leaks scandal must come clean and shoulder responsibility, “whoever they are”.
Dr Busuttil said he did not consider it acceptable for people in public office or in political positions to be among those involved “in this scandal”.
“If any person on these lists has any official connection with the PN he or she should consider himself or herself suspended immediately from the party,” Dr Busuttil said.
He insisted that while it was obvious any person involved should immediately ensure his tax position was in line with the law and pay whatever was due, “if at any stage these people breached other laws, they must come clean and carry responsibility for their behaviour”.
Dr Busuttil said if any of the funds in the Swiss bank were derived as a result of abuse of any official position, the individual must pay for his betrayal of public trust “to the fullest extent possible”.
In a statement issued yesterday the government said it had asked the Swiss authorities to pass on information on accounts connected to Malta. Similar information was also being sought on other data issued a few years ago and which was not followed-up.
The government asked the media to pass on any information it may have while protecting the source.
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