The Weekly Round-Up (12/01/18)

European Parliament report demands removal of Mizzi, Schembri 

A report by the cross-party European Parliament delegation has called for the removal from office and investigation of those implicated in the Panama Papers and FIAU reports, namely Tourism Minister Mizzi and PM Chief of Staff Schembri. The delegation, led by socialist MEP Ana Gomes, also argued that the Whistleblower Act should be revised to cover public-sector workers. 

Opposition Calls for Investigation into Vitals Deal 

The Opposition has called on the Auditor General to investigate the Vitals deal, which saw the government give three Gozo public hospitals to British Virgin Islands company Vitals for €1. The agreement binds the government to pay millions per year to Vitals, which recently sold its concession to another company. Health Minister Fearne has repeatedly distanced himself from the Vitals deal (signed by Konrad Mizzi) but continues to implement its provisions. The Medical Association of Malta has said the deal should be paused pending an investigation.

Russians top list of passport buyers 

Many prominent Russian business figures and politicians are amongst those who have bought a Maltese passport for themselves and their families. New Maltese include Leonid Viktoryvich Korotkov (a member of the Russian Communist Party), Alexey Alexandrovich Marey (CEO of Alfa Bank Russia), Faisal Alibrahim (a Saudi Arabian Minister), Arkady Volodzh (oligarch and founder of Russia’s Google equivalent) and Ibrahim Waleed Alibrahim (a Saudi business magnate recently arrested by the Saudi government for corruption).

Muscat Appears in BBC Interview 

Prime Minister Muscat has appeared in an interview with BBC journalist James Sweeney, as Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi and Chris Cardona all refused to field questions on the programme. Muscat claimed he has only met with Azerbaijan dictator Aliyev on three or four occasions, talked about murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, and argued that Malta’s passport-sale scheme is the most transparent in Europe.

AUM Denies it is falling behind

The American University of Malta, which is owned and run by the Jordanian Sadeen Group, has denied that it is failing to uphold its agreement with the government, despite media reports and evidence to the contrary. The AUM recently applied to take over the police HQ in Bormla, despite the fact that it has 15 students, and has posted images of the extension on Facebook indicating this will be approved. In another media report, a former faculty member of the AUM voiced doubts ‘whether the AUM is even a university at all’.

Agius Premier Visit Raises Tensions within the PN 

Deputy PN Leader David Agius’ decision to visit the inauguration of the former Café Premier site has raised tensions within the PN parliamentary group, as a number of MPs strongly disagreed with the decision. The PN has harshly criticised the Premier deal in the past. The deal was later described by Prime Minister Muscat as “a mistake”.

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