Today’s illum publishes a ‘story’ by Saviour Balzan that is presented as exclusive and ground breaking but instead repeats a whitewash that has been known for months. The FIAU ‘found nothing’ when it concluded its investigations into Pilatus Bank. We knew that.
Saviour Balzan reports with excitement that he is aware that in September 2016 the FIAU sent Pilatus Bank a clean bill of health. I came late to blogging on this but last October Godfrey Leone Ganado was analysing this letter this website on the back of the reasonable assumption that everyone was aware of it.
Yes Saviour Balzan, the FIAU absolved Pilatus Bank. We knew this.
It did that after getting rid of the independent investigators including Jonathan Ferris, after the direct intervention of Ian Abdilla the tagħnalkoller stratospherically promoted by Labour to head the economic crimes unit and sit on a series of FIAU reports containing damning evidence of corruption, after the chief of the FIAU Manfred Galdes was forced out, and with the acquiescence of Peter Grech who publicly stated that as Chairman of the FIAU he has to focus on the administration of the unit from which we must infer he must forget his duties as attorney general.
Yes Saviour Balzan, the FIAU whitewashed Pilatus Bank. We knew this.
There’s nothing exclusive in reporting the callousness that has shocked a small portion of this nation and has been ignored by the rest. There’s nothing exclusive in information already found by the European Parliament’s PANA committee that has led them to demand that the licensing of Pilatus Bank be investigated and the rabid politicisation of the investigating arms of the state be replaced with proper independent action.
Why do you think the Attorney General is asking the Industrial Tribunal to suppress Jonathan Ferris’s testimony in the suit he is bringing for unfair dismissal from the FIAU? Why do you think the Attorney General is asking the Industrial Tribunal to shut the press and the public out of that hearing and seal it in secrecy?
Surely the fact that our money-laundering laws require secrecy to prevent tipping off criminals is not relevant here. Especially considering that by the FIAU’s, the Attorney General’s and your account – you, Saviour Balzan – Pilatus Bank is without blemish. There are no criminals to tip off, so why the secrecy?
And then Saviour Balzan does classic Labour. It’s all the PN’s fault. Tonio Fenech wanted Pilatus here. What utter crap. The bank was licensed in January 2014 after a six-week process controlled by Joe Bannister (he who was stripped by the ICIJ in the Paradise Papers) without any discernible due diligence exercise. Due diligence is not done by Ministers. Or by wedding guests of the chairman of the bank, even if they are directors of a newspaper (whatever the hell Saviour Balzan was implying by that).
Due diligence is conducted by the independent regulator who alone is empowered and responsible for licensing and monitoring banking institutions. From beginning to end, from embryo to puberty, this process was conducted under the Labour government to serve the interests of the gang that leads it.
A tea with Tonio Fenech proves nothing. Except that it does, though. That even as he writes that Pilatus Bank is squeaky clean, Saviour Balzan still wants to plaster the bank’s terrible reputation to the back of the PN. Saviour Balzan or those who ‘briefed’ him.
And here is Saviour Balzan concluding his ‘story’ without even a hint of sarcasm that he decided to ‘risk breaching secrecy laws’ to provide a service to his readers and in exercise of his freedom of speech. Firstly nothing that is already in the public doman can be considered secrecy, so Saviour Balzan knows full well he’s risking prison over this as much as I risk becoming a concert pianist by Monday. Secondly a journalist who is serving no interest but the truth never needs to justify what they write. But Saviour Balzan had to do so today.
Because deep down, somewhere, the man has a conscience. He is not instinctively comfortable serving the interests of crooks and corrupt bullies, even Labour Party politicians. He especially does not appreciate corporate bullies threatening ruinous law suits to force newspapers to change history to accommodate the rich and powerful as he has had to do with his under the yoke of Pilatus Bank.
But his over-riding hatred of Daphne Caruana Galizia, in her life as in her death, compromises even that deeply buried conscience.
We did not accept the whitewash perpetrated by the rump survivors of Labour’s pogrom of the FIAU. We will not accept it now even if Saviour Balzan presents it as an “exclusive story”. I am personally saddenned by the sight of a man who committed his life to public service and journalism allowing himself to be instrumentalised to this extent. But that changes nothing.
Truth must be told. But it must also be interpreted. Yes the FIAU absolved Pilatus Bank. No, what was left of the FIAU when it did so, simply cannot be trusted.