As usual, a response that resorts to the right of reply will be published without comments.
Reference is made to your blogpost published on Tuesday the 13th October 2020. Pursuant to the firm’s right of reply in terms of the Media and Defamation Act, Chapter 579 of the Laws of Malta, you are hereby being solicited to publish the following in its entirety, without any alteration or comments and with the same prominence as that accorded to your original blogpost, and to add a prominent link to this Right of Reply in the original blogpost. In accordance with the afore-mentioned Act, this right of reply must be so published by not later than the second day following the day on which the request is received.
Contrary to your allegations, our law firm offers its services apolitically and in line with the laws and regulations in force at any particular time in our country. Consequently, this letter will not express any opinion on the IIP.
As a fact, no client with a criminal background was presented or discussed
During the recorded meeting with the Maltese firm, at no point did the journalist mention any real or fictitious case involving a client with a criminal record for consideration by the firm. Therefore, the firm clearly could not have shown any interest or willingness to consider serving such client.
The Journalist’s own version in French does not support your allegations.
Furthermore, the transcript of the journalist’s own voice-over in French in the TV programme as aired does not carry an allegation that the partner was presented a potential client with a criminal background. The TV Programme completely mutes the original audio of the meeting in English – so the lawyer’s own words are not aired. It is suspicious to say the least that a journalist having such damning statements on record would resist airing them at all.
The firm screens the reputation of its clients before on-boarding.
Original unedited footage obtained through legal action in France last December, published in January reveals the truth. Describing no specific client, the French journalist described his ‘clients’ as individuals who are not politically exposed but who have a public profile due to their success inbusiness. While that describes the firm’s typical clients, the lawyer did not reply that the firm would automatically accept them as clients. Given the example of such clients having bad press (not even a criminal background), the lawyer emphasises: “…for them an assessment would be critical because there will be cases where we will not waste time.”
No clients are onboarded without passing initial due diligence
The lawyer goes on to emphasise: “with a passport check we will immediately know what there is…. so we offer a free assessment at the outset, passport check, if it’s a complete no go, we don’t waste your time.”
The lawyer is on tape clearly rejecting the illegal use of connections
In the original footage, the journalist attempts three times to solicit from the lawyer confirmation of connections with public officials. While acknowledging knowing the individuals mentioned, when pressed by the journalist, the lawyer leaves no doubt as to his bona fides, stating:
“I am always very careful to explain to people like that, look it doesn’t mean I can get something done if it’s not… So that’s the way I operate, so to do it the right way, if there is a concern, address the concern. And if it’s not doable, we can be honest and say, I can’t help here.”
The above contrasts starkly with what is being alleged in this and other past blogposts about the firm. Please note that any further defamation will not be tolerated and will be met with the full force of law in the Maltese Courts.
Dr Jean-Philippe Chetcuti
CHETCUTI CAUCHI ADVOCATES