Independent candidate for the 10th and 11th districts, Arnold Cassola, has authorised the Commissioner for Inland Revenue to make his tax declarations available, saying “unexplained wealth” can no longer be the hallmark of Maltese parliamentarians, as he invited the prime minister and other politicians to do the same.
In a press conference on Saturday outside the tax commissioner’s offices in Floriana, Cassola announced that he was authorising the Commissioner to make available to journalists Cassola’s tax returns going back 5, 10, 20, even 30 years, if requested.
“The past legislature has been characterised by a considerable number of politicians and PEPs who avoided or evaded taxes or had a dubious relationship with their duties as responsible citizens,” Cassola stated.
He referred to secret offshore companies opened by disgraced former minister Konrad Mizzi and disgraced former OPM chief staff Keith Schembri in Panama, which only came to light after documents were leaked to international press. Mizzi, was the only EU minister caught with an offshore company to retain his seat, and later allowed to run for the 2017 snap election.
“We all remember how Mizzi and Schembri set up secret companies in Panama, with the specific aim of hiding their undeclared wealth and of receiving kickbacks from Yorgen Fenech’s 17 Black and MacBridge,” Cassola said.
MacBridge International Development is owned by Tang Zhaomin, the mother-in-law of Chen Cheng, a Chinese negotiator involved in multi-million euro deals by Enemalta.
MacBridge and 17 Black were named in a 2015 email as one of two companies intended to pump money in to secret offshore Panama companies which Schembri and Mizzi took ownership of that year.
Cassola also made reference to MP Rosianne Cutajar and Prime Minister Robert Abela. On the former parliamentary secretary, who was forced to resign after she allegedly received some €46,000 in cash for her role in brokering the €3.1 million property deal, Cassola said: “Cutajar accepted payments from the businessman, whom she knew to be a briber of politicians, and did not declare these earnings to the taxman.”
Cutajar resigned in anticipation of a damning report by the Standards Commissioner, who found that she breached ethics when failing to declare a cash gift from murder suspect Yorgen Fenech. In a press conference this week, Abela said “Cutajar paid her political price and it is now up to the people to decide whether they want her in parliament or not.”
She has recently pledged allegiance to Abela during a campaign trail stop.
“The Prime Minister, instead, has millions in unexplained wealth, and he persists in not revealing his tax returns. The situation in his case is seriously complicated by the fact that we now know he dealt in business with callous criminals, including Christian Borg,” Cassola said.
The independent candidate also mentioned Labour MP Ian Castaldi Paris, who amassed over one million euros in unexplained wealth, which had not been declared to the taxman.
He also mentioned Nationalist leader Bernard Grech, who in 2006 was asked to settle a hefty bill for unpaid taxes between 1990 and 1996, then again in 2012 for the years 1999-2011 and again he was asked to settle VAT assessments for 2014 to 2019.
Cassola also made reference to former Nationalist MP David Thake was also outed for not having paid 270,000 euros due to the VAT office, adding that Thake had attributed this to cash flow problems.
“Since Malta needs to have honest politicians who are open to public scrutiny, already as a candidate I am authorising the Commissioner of Revenue to make accessible to journalists my tax returns, if requested,” he said, and added that he expects fellow politicians including Abela to follow suit.