Wednesday

26th Sep 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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“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.

News in Brief

  1. UK opposition demand election if parliament rejects Brexit plan
  2. EU to have coordinated plan on AI by December
  3. No UK election before Brexit, says May
  4. Former French PM wants to be mayor of Barcelona
  5. Merkel's wingman in surprise defeat in internal party vote
  6. Orban sends thank-you letters to supportive MEPs
  7. UN chief: World suffering from 'trust deficit disorder'
  8. Stalemate in Sweden as parliament ousts prime minister

EU parliament will not budge on office expenses

Hungarian centre-right MEP Livia Jaroka sticks to earlier decision: documents related to the minor reform of the expenses system, requested by EUobserver, should remain secret.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. EU agrees 'hair-trigger' chemical weapons sanctions
  2. World upside down as EU and Russia unite against US
  3. EU court delivers transparency blow on MEP expenses
  4. Russian with Malta passport in money-laundering probe
  5. Cyprus: Russia's EU weak link?
  6. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  7. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  8. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us