By Godfrey Leone Ganado
So far, I have reviewed the leaked Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) reports on ‘allegations of corruption by Keith Schembri on the sale of passports’, on ‘alleged payments made by Keith Schembri to Adrian Hillman’ and on ‘Pilatus Bank’.
Konrad Mizzi may have been perceived to have escaped the FIAU net, however this is not the case, although this report has been work-in-progress since the end of May 2017 and nobody seems to know whether it has been completed since.
It is appropriate to highlight that the Minister of Finance, Edward Scicluna, whose ministerial responsibilities embraces the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit as part of MFSA, is on record of having questioned whether the FIAU reports were “written to be leaked”.
I may perhaps suggest that the report on Konrad Mizzi has not yet been completed, as it may be undergoing a paint over by the FIAU, to make sure that it will be ‘appropriately written to be leaked’, and save the Minister from another embarrassment and reputation breaker for Malta’s financial services sector.
In fact, I had already referred to a second FIAU/MFSA compliance visit to Pilatus Bank eight days after the resignation of Manfred Galdes, the Director of the FIAU, to come up with a short report stating that the shortcomings reported a few months earlier, ‘no longer subsist’ and that missing documentation had been found and incomplete documentation had been made complete.
The information below, on the incomplete FIAU report on Konrad Mizzi, is taken from what was published in the press.
Extracts from an alleged FIAU report presented in Court reveal anti-money laundering investigators flagged Minister Konrad Mizzi’s travel patterns, incongruous bank account figures and disproportionate banking costs as suspicious.
Investigators asked themselves why Dr Mizzi would spend some Euro 10,000 creating a secret trust in New Zealand for his relatively limited declared assets, at a time when, as a government minister, he started earning less money than before.
The report states “In the event that Dr Mizzi wished to protect his assets for his family’s benefit, it would have been logical to do so shortly after the birth of his children in 2007 and 2010”.
Among other things, the extract notes that:
- Concerted efforts to open a bank account for Dr Mizzi’s Hearnville (secret Panama company) only began in 2015 – when deals related to Enemalta’s privatisation were nearing completion – despite it having been incorporated since 2013.
- Setting up the trust and Panama company, cost Dr Mizzi at least Euro 9,700, with that figure not including annual service fees, potential fees owed to Mossack Fonseca or a trip Dr Mizzi made to Dubai reportedly to present a bank there with documentation.When compared to Dr Mizzi’s declared assets, the costs “are not justified”.
- Dr Mizzi declared Euro 310,279 in bank deposits in his 2014 declaration of assets, rising to Euro 389,440 in 2015. FIAU investigators could only trace just over Euro 92,000 of that, held in joint accounts with his wife.
- Mr Karl Cini, partner of Brian Tonna of Nexia BT reportedly told the investigators that Dubai companies 17 Black and Macbridge Ltd were the “target clients” of Dr Mizzi’s and Mr Schembri’s Panama firms Hearnville and Tillgate.
- Dr Mizzi’s claim that he did not give a service provider a power of attorney to open a bank account for his Panama company “is not in line” with the power of attorney he signed in June 2015 in favour of Nexia BT’s Mr Cini and Brian Tonna.
- Money was transferred from a company connected to Armada Floating Gas Services Malta, owners of the LNG tanker berthed in Marsaxlokk, to a Dubai based company, 17 Black, created for the purpose of transferring kickbacks to Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri through their respective Panama companies.
SOME PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS/COMMENTS
- On 6 October 2016, Konrad Mizzi was testifying in Court in a libel case he instituted against PN Deputy Leader Beppe Fenech Adami, and he said that his company and trust had now been registered in Malta.I challenge him to publish the names of the Company and the Trust and the date of incorporation of the company and the setting up of the Trust.
- Konrad Mizzi had declared that he had set up the secret Trust in New Zealand for ‘family planning reasons’ (he actually meant to say ‘family succession planning’) to transfer the house he owns in England and the flat he owns in Sliema. I challenge him to publish the notarial deed showing the transfer of the above property to the MaltaTrust.
- The Pilatus Bank whistle-blower, a Russian lady employee of the bank, alleged that Konrad Mizzi had an account in the name of his secret Panama company Hearnville, at Pilatus Bank. I challenge him to tell us, in the name of the transparency he always boasts about, whether his ‘secret’ visit to Pilatus Bank using his ministerial car with the GM plate removed, was in connection with the opening of this alleged bank account.
- Konrad Mizzi challenges selected Opposition members of Parliament to publish their income tax returns to emulate him in being transparent. I challenge Konrad to publish his assets declaration presented to the Speaker this year, as well as his income tax returns for basis years 2015 and 2016. If his spouse files a separate tax return, I challenge him to publish his spouse’s income tax returns for the same two basis years.
- I challenge Konrad Mizzi to inform us, taxpayers, whether his spouse is still withdrawing a Government salary and perks and the relative amounts.
- From information I secured through an International Company Service Provider, Dato Capital, it results that web surfers using their services, viewed Hearnville INC nine hundred fifty nine times over a span of two years and that, between 22 June 2016 and 12 September 2016, there were 81 visits from the Russian Federation. I invite Konrad Mizzi to inform us whether he has any idea as to why Russians were interested in a dormant company, and whether these visits could have been related to the sale of passports, considering that the total passports issued to Russians according to Identity Malta was 270.