This is a statement delivered by Repubblika today:
Repubblika expresses its anger in reaction to yesterday’s statement by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat that justified his decision to retain in office his Chief of Staff Keith Schembri and Minister Konrad Mizzi.
On election’s eve in 2017 Joseph Muscat had already been justifying himself for two years for retaining these two in office in spite of being caught setting up secret companies in Panama.
Speaking on Keith Schembri he had promised at the time that if criminal investigations were ever to commence, Keith Schembri would immediately resign from any position he held.
When he was reminded of this commitment — now that police investigators informed Times of Malta they are investigating the 17 Black scandal — Joseph Muscat said that a 17 Black investigation is not the same as a criminal investigation in Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.
These twists are not acceptable.
17 Black in and of itself does not require a criminal investigation. 17 Black is a Dubai company owned by Yorgen Fenech of Tumas Group. The only thing that could be alleged about its existence is that it is some tool for tax evasion.
Altogether different things justify the criminal investigation we are told is ongoing:
- That Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri set up secret Panama companies through Nexia BT and Mossack Fonseca.
- That Nexia BT informed Mossack Fonseca that Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri’s companies identified 17 Black as a client that would pay them $150,000 a month.
- That 17 Black belongs to Yorgen Fenech who runs the Malta partner of Electrogas.
- That Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri negotiated and sealed the Electrogas contract which also includes binding commitments to purchase energy from the Azerbaijan State gas company.
- That the contract with Electrogas and the commitments it includes are disadvantageous to the Maltese consumer as priced higher than market rates.
There is no scope for a criminal investigation unless it is to take criminal action on the basis of these established facts.
Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi have been bribed to grant to Electrogas the power station contract.
There is no scope to investigate 17 Black unless it is for the police to detain and arraign Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri, as well as Yorgen Fenech and possibly other persons, and charge them with corruption and money laundering.
The immediate resignation of Keith Schembri is not merely necessary because Joseph Muscat promised it. It is needed because his position of power threatens in practice and in a tangible manner the police officers and the institutions that might dare do their job and arrest him.
This is abuse of power.
The Prime Minister’s actions in this matter are also an abuse of power and potentially illegal. He is harbouring people from the actions of the law and obstructing justice by keeping them near him in the most powerful executive office of the land.
Joseph Muscat is fully aware that his behaviour in respect of Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi raises enormous doubts not only within civil society or persons that are openly critical of the government. Supporters of Joseph Muscat are also feeling grave doubts. They cannot fathom why he still retains two persons who have committed horrible crimes and are causing real embarrassment to the entire government.
These supporters do not understand why Joseph Muscat is not even prepared to consider the removal of Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.
We submit that Joseph Muscat’s behaviour makes his own position untenable. He himself is abusing his own power and amputating justice.
- Calls for the resignation or removal of Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi;
- Calls for the resignation or removal of Joseph Muscat;
- Calls for the country’s institutions to overcome fear and fulfil all the duties assigned to them by the constitution;
- Calls on Members of Parliament, especially those elected on the Labour Party ticket, to honour the responsibilities assigned to them by the people and ensure we have a government made of people who act within the law and support a government that reflects the people’s will that rule is entrusted to the Labour Party but that rule stays within the limits of the law and the constitution;
- Calls on all civil society — all people of good will that uphold our democracy — to remain strong in their call for right to prevail and not to allow themselves to be outlast by the patience of fugitives with much to lose and time to hide in the rooms of power.