Magisterial inquiries into alleged kickbacks and corruption, involving, among others, Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri, had not been concluded yet, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici specified on Thursday.
Addressing the European Parliament’s Financial Crimes Committee in Strasbourg on Monday, he declared that “two major inquiries had concluded there were no grounds to proceed against these people”, referring to Mr Schembri, the Prime Minister’s top aide, and Dr Mizzi, the Tourism Minister. However, when approached on Thursday, Dr Bonnici said he used such terminology “so people would understand”.
Asked which two inquiries he was referring to, the minister said he was not actually referring to inquiries but to “legal procedures”.
“I was referring to the legal process, an appeals court sentence by Mr Justice Giovanni Grixti and to the conclusions of the Egrant inquiry involving the Prime Minister and his family”, Dr Bonnici clarified.
When it was pointed out to him that processes he referred to did not investigate Mr Schembri and Dr Mizzi, as he had told MEPs, and that Mr Justice Grixti’s decision was on whether a probe into the Panama Papers allegations should take place, the minister said he used the term “inquiries” to simplify things.
Dr Bonnici confirmed there were other inquiries under way and appealed to the members of the judiciary handling them to conclude their work as expeditiously as possible.
“To my knowledge, there are a number of inquiries ongoing, some of them opened at the request of the police, and I appeal that these are concluded as justice delayed is justice denied,” he remarked.
Of the inquiries in progress and involving senior members of the government, which started over the past two years most of them following requests by the Opposition, only the Egrant inquiry is known to have been concluded.
In its conclusions – the whole report was never published despite the Prime Minister’s public pledge to do so – the inquiring magistrate declared he found no evidence indicating that Egrant belonged to Dr Muscat or members of his family.
Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras is looking into a report by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, which raised suspicion that Mr Schembri could have received kickbacks from Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna in connection with the sale of passports.
Magistrate Josette Demicoli is investigating another report by the government anti-money laundering agency indicating possible corrupt practices and kickbacks involving $650,000 in transactions between Mr Schembri and Adrian Hillman, former managing director of Allied Newspapers.
The inquiries will seek to establish whether there exists prima facie evidence on corruption, money laundering and other criminal activities on which the police could press criminal charges.
Other inquiries reported in the media are about the Dubai-based 17 Black company and alleged kickbacks to both Mr Schembri and Dr Mizzi in relation to the power station project.
Leaked copies of documents send by Nexia BT’s Karl Cini to banks on behalf of both men indicated they stood to receive $2 million from 17 Black and another company of still unknown ownership called Macbridge.