Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has no problem with Minister Konrad Mizzi's company in a blacklisted tax haven because the ultimate beneficiary is a trust in New Zealand.

Dr Muscat this afternoon repeated his defence of Dr Mizzi's decision to open an overseas trust that has acquired a company registered in Panama.

The Central American country is a tax haven and was blacklisted by the EU last year.

Dr Muscat said he would have had a problem had the company not been declared.

Asked to say when the company was created and when it was acquired by Dr Mizzi's trust, the Prime Minister said he had no information about the company but details about it will emerge in the ministerial declaration of assets.

Dr Muscat was answering questions after officially inaugurating an investment by pharmaceutical company Aurobindo in ─Žal-Far.

Asked whether he or any other ministers had companies in blacklisted jurisdictions, the Prime Minister said that as far as he knew no other Cabinet minister had such companies. "I do not have," he added.

Maltese and Gozitans want to know when secret company was set up - PN

In a statement, the Nationalist Party said Dr Muscat was not saying when Dr Mizzi's secret company in Panama was set up. This was what the Maltese and Gozitans were asking and had a right to know.

What was Dr Muscat afraid of, the PN asked.

Opposition leader 'a coward' - PL

In another statement, the Labour Party said 48 hours had passed since Opposition leader Simon Busuttil spoke in a deceitful and slanderous manner in Parliament about Dr Mizzi but he did not take on the challenge to repeat what he said outside Parliament.

Dr Busuttil was a coward whose only intent was to the politics of negativity and bitterness, the PL said.

Why Panama is a tax haven

According to the latest issue of the Global Corruption Index by Transparency International, Panama is the 14th most secretive financial jurisdiction in the world.

Last June, the European Commission added Panama to its blacklist of countries designated as tax havens over the lack of support for anti-tax fraud and evasion efforts.

The blacklist consists of 30 countries and territories, mostly in the Caribbean.

According to international taxation specialists, the Republic of Panama is considered to be one of the most well-established pure tax havens in the Caribbean due to extensive legislation that strictly regulates the country’s offshore jurisdiction and financial services.

Services offered to foreign nationals by the Panama jurisdiction include offshore banking, the incorporation of offshore companies and formation of Panama trusts and foundations.

There are no taxes imposed on offshore companies that only engage in business outside the jurisdiction.

Secrecy and privacy are one of the most important ‘selling’ points of Panama’s jurisdiction. Strict confidentiality laws and regulations apply to documentation of offshore companies, trusts and foundations.

The names of corporate shareholders are not required to be publicly registered while banks are prohibited from sharing any information about offshore bank accounts or account holders.

Panama has no tax treaties with other countries, further protecting the financial privacy of clients who are citizens of other countries.

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