Minister Konrad Mizzi reiterated his case that the Panama revelations have no bearing because “no transactions were ever made, and no money was ever received by the trust and underlying company.”
I had the benefit of the company of someone who investigated over 5,000 cases of people suspected (many of them prosecuted and convicted) for economic crimes.
I asked Antonio di Pietro what he would have made of such a defence if he was faced by a government minister (as he had been by many in his days in the Mani Pulite investigations) saying they did not have money in their companies discovered in secret jurisdictions.
Here’s his answer.
It is not like we needed an internationally renowned expert prosecutor who secured convictions of politicians with secret off-shore accounts to reach the same conclusion. We have reached it long ago.
But in a country where impunity of politicians reigns, Konrad Mizzi is still in office and we still wait for action to be taken.
Incidentally Konrad Mizzi should know: the election did not remove the need for him to be investigated by the police. The arrest of people suspected of killing Daphne Caruana Galizia does not take him off the agenda either.
The truth will continue to be pursued.
A transcript and a translation to English of the above exchange with Antonio di Pietro follow:
MD: Dunque Dottor Di Pietro, il Ministro Mizzi dice: sì, ho (il conto in Panama..e) la societa in Panama, ma non ci sono soldi e non ci sono mai stati. Che ne pensa di questa difesa?
ADP: Vuol dire tutto e vuol dire niente. Se fossi ancora io un investigatore gli chiederei non perché non ci sono più soldi ma perché l’hai aperto, delle due l’una: o l’hai aperta perché ci dovevi mettere i soldi, o l’abbiamo trovata senza soldi perché ce l’ hai già tolti. Quest’ idea di dire “apro un conto in Panama ma non ci sono i soldi” è un affermazzione che non ha senso, semplicemente perché non mi é mai capitato nella mia storia giudiziaria di trovare delle persone che aprono dei conti come se andassero a fare la spesa soltanto per lasciarlo poi chiuso nel frigorifero.
MD: So, Dr Di Pietro, Minister Mizzi says: ok, I have a company in Panama, but there is no money and there never was any money. What do you make of this ‘defence’?
ADP: It means everything and it means nothing. If I were still an investigator I wouldn’t ask him why there isn’t any money now but rather the reason why it was opened in the first place; to which there are two possible scenarios: either you opened it because you needed to put money in it, or we didn’t find any money because you’ve already removed it all from our view. The idea that “I will open an account in Panama but there will be no money” is nonsense, simply because in my whole judicial career I never came across persons who open accounts [without the intention to use them], as if one went to shop for groceries with the intention of leaving them to rot away in the fridge.