Update: Absolutely no way I could have known - Tonio Fenech
Labour MPs Chris Cardona and Michael Falzon have accused Minister of Finance, Economy and Investment Tonio Fenech of lying when he rejected claims that he was aware that George Farrugia was the company director of Aikon Limited.
Chris Cardona producing a copy of a ‘Form K’ dated January 13, 2011, in which the Malta Financial Services Authority was informed that George Farrugia was the new company director, legal representative and company secretary. Seven month after, in July 2011, Minister Fenech forwarded a request for investigation over Aikon Ltd to the Tax Compliance Unit.
Michael Falzon asked how Minister Fenech did not raise eyebrows when the file used in the TCU’s investigation contained invoices for consultancy and purchase of oil. The MP also demanded if Mr Farrugia was investigated personally over tax evasion and is the Prime Minister was informed of this.
Both MPs demanded if the Minister of Finance has spoken to the Commissioner of Police, the Attorney General, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet about the link between George Farrugia and Aikon Ltd during the discussions preceding the presidential pardon.
Tonio Fenech's reaction
There is absolutely no way the Ministry could have been aware of George Farrugia’s relation to the tax investigation, the Minister for Finance, the Economy and Investment Tonio Fenech stated.
The Minister was categorically denying allegations made by the PL earlier this afternoon, insinuating that these allegations show that the Labour Party have no interest in uncovering the truth, but rather only care about trying to implicate members of the Cabinet.
Addressing the question as to why the Minister didn’t go to the police but rather only chose to approach Tax Compliance Unit (TCU), he stated that the Head of the Security Services had approached the Ministers' secretary specifically asking for the TCU to investigate Aikon for tax evasion. As such the Ministry never saw the documents but only handed them over, he added.
Mr Fenech explained that it is not in the TCU’s remit to report any findings or information regarding an investigation to the Ministry. He went as far as to say that “if my own mother was being investigated I still wouldn’t know anything about it, let alone be able to do anything about it”. Backing up these facts, he presented an email sent by the Head of the TCU to the Head of the Security Services asking if he knew who the shareholders were as they weren’t listed due to Aikon belonging to Intershore services ltd. “The authorities at the time didn’t know George Farrugia was involved and even if they did, they wouldn’t have known about his involvement in the current oil procurement scandal”.
With regards to the length of the TCU investigation, the Minister said that a number of other companies are currently being investigated due to their relationship with Aikon adding that the investigation is still very much ongoing.
Tonio Fenech emphasised that in his capacity as Minister, he has never met with George Farrugia.
Regarding George Farrugia's pardon, he emphasised that the Cabinet did not change any part of the proposal and moved forward on the Attorney General's recommendation.
A while back the PL made a fuss regarding people investigated tax being sent to jail and now they’ve made a U-turn on the situation, he concluded.