Saturday, 8 December 2018, 09:16 Last update: about 2 hours ago
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna told The Malta Independent that, while he is not defending anyone, one should not just act on allegations.
The minister was asked whether he has concerns over Nexia BT and Brian Tonna still having a licence to operate, and whether Nexia BT and Tonna should be allowed to work, in any form, with government and ministries until full investigations clear them of any potential wrongdoing.
Nexia BT is the company who originally acquired the Panamanian companies for OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi. It also facilitated the opening of the Trusts and had helped in the search for potential bank accounts for the companies. Brian Tonna is the Managing Partner of the Nexia BT.
“I don’t want to discuss a particular case, but with regard concerns on intermediaries – all auditing firms, legal advisers and so on – there are now certain requirements, and the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit has a plan. In other words, intermediaries are now being closely evaluated, and some of them are really complaining because they are being asked questions and so on.”
“This is a general issue, and intermediaries from now onwards have to be responsible for the advice they give if it leads to, as you are implying, potential crime or even tax avoidance. The fifth Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Directive goes into this, and if you download the AML plan for Malta which includes 48 tasks, you will find that intermediaries are addressed there as well.”
“Your concern is everybody’s concern, that intermediaries have to be responsible for their actions.”
Pressed, and asked whether he believes they should continue to receive government work or contracts until any investigations and the current court inquiries conclude, he said: “we have a sanctions board, but it is for labour. I do not know of any directive where one can sanction public procurement. The directive is mostly on child labour and environmental areas. But this is an opinion which one has every right to talk about.”
“But again, normally in a democratic society, and I’m not trying to defend anybody here, you wouldn’t act just on allegations. I’m not saying the allegations are not true but one should await. – I mean even in the USA as you can see certain cases come up after two or three years of investigation, and then the sanctions should come in after they conclude wrongdoing was found and they would have to pay for their actions.”
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