The company in Panama owned by Minister Konrad Mizzi is only worth €92. This was stated by the Minister during the programme Dissett on Wednesday evening. The Minister revealed that he had decided to open the trust in New Zealand after a discussion with the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, who had already spoken with his financial consultants about this. He said that the decision to close the company in Panama came about after consultation and after hearing that many did not think he should have this type of arrangement for the management of his family funds.
Minister Mizzi said that to date, the Commissioner of Inland Revenue had simply informed him that he had received his request for a full audit of his assets. He said that he does not know how long this exercise will last, however he refuted the argument that the Commissioner cannot investigate his Panama company. He said that this investigation can take place because he gave his authority and added that he would be closing the company in which he had invested €92, as soon as the verification from the tax commissioner was completed.
Regarding the trust in New Zealand, Minister Mizzi said,
“The PM’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri had explained his situation to me about his trust and the advice he had been given, and after this discussion I spoke with the same advisors about this subject and they came up with a structure for me. This structure is slightly different as well because its objectives are slightly different and the beneficiaries are different,” Dr Mizzi said.
Asked whether they had advised one another, Dr Mizzi said, “No we did not give advice to each other. I knew what was going on and his good intentions. On my part, I spoke with advisors and they managed it. It is also good to point out that I entered into the engagement with Nexia at a much later date than he did,” Dr Mizzi said.
Dr Mizzi said that the PM’s Chief of Staff opened a trust as a contingency plan after already holding a number of trusts here in Malta. He pointed out that Mr Schembri was a businessman for a long time before he took over his current role.
Asked why he did not register the trust with the Inland Revenue Commissioner, Dr Mizzi said that he had left everything in the hands of his financial consultants.
“Last week I once again asked for a third opinion from lawyers to check the laws to ensure that I had done nothing wrong. This was to set my mind at rest. They told us that there was a notification letter within a legal notice which is hardly used in Malta. We looked up this declaration on the inland revenue website but did not find anything. We found it in a legal notice and in fact it was not in euro but still used the old formula of the Maltese lira. My advisors did not know about it and I told them to rectify it,” added Dr Mizzi.
During Dissett Minister Mizzi said that between Saturday and Monday he decided to dismantle the company in Panama, because after speaking with several friends, they told him it was best to close it. The Minister said that before he opened the trust, a thorough due diligence was carried out on him to check where the assets were coming from since he was a politician.