Extracts from an alleged FIAU report presented in court today reveal how anti-money laundering investigators flagged Minister Konrad Mizzi's travel patterns, incongruous bank account figures and disproportionate banking costs as suspicious.
The four-page extract, which The Malta Independent's Pierre Portelli handed to media houses after presenting it to inquiring magistrate Aaron Bugeja, details FIAU suspicions concerning Dr Mizzi.
Investigators asked themselves why Dr Mizzi would spend some €10,000 creating a secretive financial structure for his relatively limited declared assets, at a time when, as a government minister, he started earning less money than before.
Dr Mizzi has repeatedly insisted that he opened a Panama company and New Zealand trust for family financial planning reasons, but FIAU investigators were seemingly not convinced.
"In the event that Dr Konrad Mizzi wished to protect his assets for his family’s benefit, it would have been logical to do so shortly after the birth of his children in 2007 and 2010," they wrote in the draft report extract.
Among other things, the extract notes that:
- Dr Mizzi travelled to China 17 times between November 2013 and March 2016. The fact that he stayed in hotels for at least 16 of those trips and used his official credit card suggested the trips were not family-related.
- Concerted efforts to open a bank account for Dr Mizzi's Hearnville Inc only began in 2015 - when deals related to Enemalta's privatisation were nearing completion - despite it having been incorporated since 2013.
- Setting up the trust and Panamanian company cost Dr Mizzi at least €9,700, with that figure not including annual service fees, potential fees owed to Mossack Fonseca or a trip Dr Mizzi made to Dubai reportedly to present a bank there with documentation.
When compared to Dr Mizzi's declared assets, the costs "are not justified", FIAU report writers noted.
- Dr Mizzi's declared €310,279 in bank deposits in his 2014 declaration of assets, rising to €389,440 the following year. But FIAU investigators could only trace just over €92,000 of that, held in joint accounts with his wife.
- Mr Cini reportedly told investigators that Dubai companies 17 Black and Macbridge Ltd were the "target clients" of Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri's Panama firms Hearnville and Tillgate.
- Dr Mizzi's claim that he did not give a service provider a power of attorney to open a [bank] account for his Panama company "is not in line" with the power of attorney he signed in June 2015 in favour of Nexia BT's Mr Cini and Brian Tonna.
- Investigators also found it hard to understand why a house Dr Mizzi owned in London was not placed in the trust immediately, given that the minister had spent so much to set up the trust only to leave it empty.
- Orion Engineering Group attempted one transaction to 17 Black (a Dubai company with Dr Mizzi and Keith Schembri's companies as its target clients) on July 10, 2015 and successfully concluded another 13 days later, on 23 July.
- Nexia BT's Mr Cini advised that he would be providing documentation concerning an offshore company owned by the Chinese official in charge of Enemalta negotiations to the CEO of Pilatus Bank Hamidreza Ghanbari by hand - something the CEO would not usually involve themselves in.