Joseph Muscat’s former chief of staff, Keith Schembri, and former tourism minister Konrad Mizzi were detained by financial crime police and interrogated for hours between Tuesday and Wednesday.
Mizzi’s interrogation started on Tuesday evening while Schembri was picked up by police early yesterday morning. Both men were released early on Wednesday evening. They were interrogated at the new headquarters of the Financial Crimes Investigations Department in Hamrun.
Their lawyers – Jean Paul Sammut and former magistrate Carol Peralta for Mizzi, and Edward Gatt and Mark Vassallo for Schembri – were seen entering and leaving the building throughout the day yesterday.
Sources said Scembri was being questioned over telecommunications, but would not reveal more except to say that it is not linked to the situation earlier this year that saw his assets, as well as the assets of Nexia BT officials, frozen over possible money laundering. The move had come after the conclusion of an inquiry that looked into claims that Schembri took kickbacks from Tonna, on passport sales.
The court had decreed that there was reasonable suspicion that Schembri and Tonna are guilty of crime (money laundering) under clause 3 of cap 313 of the Laws of Malta.
Schembri has also been linked with the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, with the court being told that he had been leaking information from the investigation to Yorgen Fenech – the alleged mastermind behind the murder. He denies the accusation.
Mizzi and Schembri had both opened companies in Panama which were later exposed in the Panama Papers revelations.
Sources said Konrad Mizzi was possibly spoken to about his links with Yorgen Fenech about the Electrogas deal. Fenech is accused of masterminding the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The lawyers representing both men refused to give comments to journalists yesterday, citing ongoing investigations.
Konrad Mizzi is one of the most controversial and scandal-ridden figures in Maltese politics in the last few years, with his name being tied to multiple government scandals.
He was named in the Panama Papers in 2016, but has also been named in connection with scandals pertaining to the Electrogas power station and the sale of three state hospitals to Vitals Global Healthcare.
He has always maintained his innocence and denied all wrongdoing.
Mizzi was voted out of the Labour Party earlier this year, and currently serves in Parliament as an independent MP.
Schembri, who resigned in November last year in connection with police investigations into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, had been arrested in September after a court decree issued on the Attorney General’s request days following the conclusion of a magisterial inquiry into whether Schembri had taken a €100,000 kickback on passport sales.