The European Parliament’s special committee on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance grilled Malta’s ambassador to the European Union about 17 Black.
Daniel Azzopardi was asked “tough questions” about 17 Black. Specifically, MEPs questioned whether there was any explanation why the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi set up structures to receive regular payments of €150,000.
A joint investigation by the Times of Malta and Reuters revealed last month that 17 Black, one of the companies that according to a leaked e-mail would make such payments, was owned by power station investor Yorgen Fenech.
The MEPs asked if any action had been taken against Nexia BT, the firm that set up the structures, and against its money-laundering reporting officer, Karl Cini.
As reported by the Times of Malta, Committee members also questioned if any investigations into potential breaches of public procurement rules during the power station selection process were under way in light of the 17 Black findings and a report by the National Audit Office.
The “reluctance” of the government to accept calls for a public inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was also issued by the MEPs.
In a statement, Greens MEP Sven Giegold said: “The European Parliament deserves a complete answer to all the questions”.