Sunday

21st Jan 2018

Maltese government survives Panama Papers controversy

  • Maltese people are divided over whether they believe the government is corrupt (Photo: Berit Watkin)

The Maltese government won a vote of confidence on Monday (18 April) two weeks after the Panama Papers shed light on shady deals by several officials.

Following a 13-hour debate, MPs backed the government by 38 votes to 31.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“We accept this scrutiny, but our duty is to keep working in the next two years to show that this Malta is truly everybody’s,” prime minister Joseph Muscat said during the debate.

He added that the opposition led by the Nationalist Party (PN) had proposed no alternative about what it would do in power.

The PN had provoked the debate after the Panama Papers revealed that the energy and health minister Konrad Mizzi and Muscat's chief of staff Keith Schembri owned companies in Panama and trusts in New Zealand.

On 10 April, a week after Panama Papers started to be published in the international press, several thousand people led by PN's leader Simon Busuttil demonstrated to ask for Muscat, Mizzi and Schembri's resignation.

Addressing MPs before the vote on Monday, Busuttil said Muscat "ran down the trust he was given by the people".

"Prime minister, you can run but you cannot hide. You can win in this house, but you will have lost the people’s heart out there,” he said.

“It has been eight weeks since Konrad Mizzi was found to have made use of an offshore company, when the prime minister had said that he would kicked out any politician caught misbehaving, the day after.”

He said bank accounts Mizzi and Schembri wanted to open necessitated a $1 million deposit.

"If this is not a problem for you, prime minister, this is a problem for the Maltese people,” he said.

'Not the best choice'

In his defence, Mizzi admitted that Panama “wasn’t the best choice” of location for his company, but he said he was open to scrutiny.

"I accept this trial by media, which I accept because I am a pubic figure. However, I don’t want to be judged through this trial, by misleading facts, email extracts and emails that are completely unrelated to me," he told MPs.

“I would rather await the results of the independent audit and the tax audit, the latter which I requested myself in what was an unprecedented move in local politics.”

During the debate, PM Muscat regretted that the controversy "distracted from the government’s successes" and stressed that poverty had been reduced.

His government could however continue to be embarrassed.

According to a poll published by the Malta Independent Monday morning, before the debate and confidence vote, 41.2 percent of Maltese believe the government is corrupt, compared with 38.7 percent who think it is not.

Malta denies secrecy in 'Paradise Papers' leak

Malta's finance minister Edward Scicluna told reporters that the Maltese-based entities named in the latest tax avoidance leaks are all listed on a public register. "There was no secrecy whatsoever," he said.

Catalonia prepares for rule by Skype

The two biggest parties in Catalonia have vowed to put Puigdemont back in office despite Madrid's threat to maintain direct rule.

News in Brief

  1. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia