Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has flatly refused to say if he demanded more details about the “draft business plans” his chief of staff Keith Schembri had with 17 Black.
Replying to questions from The Sunday Times of Malta, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said his office had nothing more to add to the public statements which had already been made.
The spokesman did not say if Dr Muscat had spoken to Mr Schembri about these plans, and if not, why he had failed to do so.
Dr Muscat said on Friday that he would not take any action against Mr Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi until the relevant inquiries were completed.
The only magisterial inquiry into 17 Black is being resisted by the Prime Minister himself, as well as Mr Schembri and Dr Mizzi.
Mr Schembri is facing two separate money-laundering inquiries unrelated to 17 Black.
An FIAU report calling for a criminal investigation into Dr Mizzi’s energy deals was handed to the police this spring.
The Times of Malta revealed on Friday that 17 Black is owned by power station businessman Yorgen Fenech, who is also the CEO of the Tumas Group.
After a year of denying any knowledge of 17 Black, Mr Schembri said in a government statement last April that the Dubai company was included in “draft business plans” for his business group as potential clients. His admission came on the back of the Daphne Project publishing a leaked e-mail in which 17 Black is mentioned as part of plans to open up a Bahamas bank account for Mr Schembri’s once-secret Panama company.
This same e-mail, sent by OPM consultants Nexia BT, said 17 Black and another Dubai company called Macbridge would pay in €150,000 monthly to Mr Schembri’s and Dr Mizzi’s Panama companies.
Mr Schembri has continued to ignore questions sent to him by the Times of Malta (see below).
Dr Mizzi meanwhile turned to inewsmalta.com to condemn what he described as a “coordinated attack” against him.
“This is a coordinated attack against me and on the Delimara gas project which reduced emissions by 50 per cent and 90 per cent less dust particles in the air,” Dr Mizzi said.
Opposition leader Adrian Delia on Saturday upped the pressure on the Prime Minister to sack Mr Schembri and Dr Mizzi.
“It seems like protecting Malta’s reputation and people’s jobs is not important to Joseph Muscat,” Dr Delia said in a statement. In further statements, AD and PD both demanded action from the Prime Minister.
“If he chooses to continue defending these two political delinquents he should also shoulder responsibility and step aside as well,” AD chairman Carmel Cacopardo said.
PD leader Godfrey Farrugia called for the immediate suspension of the two men, pending the outcome of a criminal investigation into their intended dealings with 17 Black.
Queries to Schembri
▪ Can you tell us when you disclosed to the Prime Minister who owned 17 Black?
▪ When did you first enter discussions with 17 Black’s UBO Yorgen Fenech about the “draft business plans”?
▪ How come you were involved in “draft business plans” with the main promoter behind the power station project?
▪ Why did you feel the need to open up a shell company in Panama, sheltered by a trust in New Zealand, to carry out these “draft business plans”?
▪ How come former Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi’s Panama company also featured in these “draft business plans”?
▪ Will you tender your resignation in light of a clear and undeniable link between your Panama company and one of the largest public contracts dealt with by the Labour government?