A magistrate is holding a specific inquiry into the 17 Black allegations, Justice Minister Owen confirmed in parliament on Monday.

He was replying to a question by Opposition leader Adrian Delia.

He said the inquiry was launched a few weeks ago, before the recent report by Reuters and Times of Malta on the ownership of the company. The media outlets had reported that criminal investigators had been handed an intelligence report naming Electrogas power station director and businessman Yorgen Fenech as the owner of the mystery Dubai company 17 Black. The company had made arrangements to deposit funds into secret Panama companies set up by Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and chief of staff Keith Schembri 

Dr Bonnici said that given that Malta had functioning rule of law and effective separation of powers, he had not been informed that an inquiry had been launched.

Watch: 17 Black in 90 seconds

However after recent developments, on Sunday he made contact with the Attorney General who confirmed that a magisterial inquiry exclusively into 17 Black was underway. 

The inquiry was requested by the police some weeks ago and is being conducted by Magistrate Chairmaine Galea.

The minister said he was not privy to any further details.

Asked whether he would be addressing Parliament on the media's revelations about 17 Black, since he had been abroad for Monday’s urgent debate, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that it was not his place to talk about matters currently under investigation as the judiciary should be left to operate “serenely” and independently.

The Sunday Times of Malta this week reported that the 17 Black case was the subject of a criminal police investigation.

Sources privy to the investigation said that officers had approached a magistrate some weeks ago to assist in the gathering of evidence as part of their probe.

PN: Government tried to keep information hidden

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia speaking later at an event in Luqa, said the government would have kept the information on the 17 Black inquiry hidden had he not asked about it in parliament.

Dr Delia also referred to the investigations into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and said Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia should first have spoken about them in Parliament and not in reply to media questions.  

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