The government has failed to provide Times of Malta with a list of official overseas trips made by Konrad Mizzi for the period he had no ministerial portfolio following the Panama Papers revelations.
Dr Mizzi was serving as the Energy and Health Minister when it was revealed he had a secret account in Panama in April 2016. He was stripped of his portfolio and became a minister within the Office of the Prime Minister, where he served until June 2017 when he was assigned the tourism ministry.
Times of Malta has made a number of requests, under the Freedom of Information Act, for data about his overseas travels since he became a member of the Cabinet in 2013.
The ministries related to energy, health and tourism provided the data but information related to the 14-month post-Panama period has still not been passed on. The OPM, where Dr Mizzi was serving at the time, turned down the request.
Times of Malta has been informed that the file on his movements abroad at the time were not kept at the OPM but the ministries have been shifting responsibility for the files from one to the other.
“Documents pertaining to the relative sector have been transferred from OPM to the pertinent ministry following the formation of Cabinet and the new portfolios in 2017,” the Office of the Principal Permanent Secretary replied in response to questions. It did not, however, indicate which ministry it was referring to.
Times of Malta filed a complaint, insisting on being given the data relating to the minister when he operated directly from Castille, but the OPM again turned down the request, this time indicating that the files had been transferred to the Ministry for Energy and Water Management.
Asked for the data through another official request, the energy ministry said: “All files related to Minister Mizzi’s travels are held by the Tourism Ministry.”
After more than six months of correspondence, Times of Malta has now sent a new request for the information to the Tourism Ministry.
Appointed minister for energy in 2013 and made responsible for the €400 million gas power project, Dr Mizzi was also given the health portfolio in April 2014 after the ousting of then health minister Godfrey Farrugia.
Soon after taking over the health portfolio, he signed a multi-million euro deal for the privatisation of three state hospitals with VGH, at the time an unknown company.
Following the Panama revelations in early 2016 – that Dr Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri had set up secret financial vehicles soon after Labour was elected to power – Dr Mizzi resigned as deputy leader of the Labour Party, a post he had just been elected to. However, despite intense calls to step down or be sacked, including senior members of the PL, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat retained him on the Cabinet as a minister without portfolio within his office.
It later transpired that he had informally been given oversight of the energy and water sectors, even attending EU council meetings in Dr Muscat’s stead.
Following the 2017 election, in which Dr Mizzi was comfortably re-elected in another Labour landslide, he was appointed as tourism minister.