Prime Minister’s corrupt chief of staff sends round a chain letter today: “Please send to 10 of your friends”

Published: May 29, 2017 at 4:56pm

I don’t think standards can fall any further, really, unless we catch Joseph Muscat fornicating with a sheep on a bed of hard cash laundered by Brian Tonna while Keith Schembri films the action and John Dalli has a gunfight two feet away with Manuel Mallia’s chauffeur and the Commissioner of Police. And even then, thousands of people will say: “It’s their private life” and “But where’s the proof?”

Keith Schembri has just sent round something that we used to call a chain letter: you receive it, then send copies to 10 of your friends, failing which some evil will befall you, or fortune bless you if you comply.

In this round-robin email, which he signs off as chief of staff to the Prime Minister, even though it carries the Labour Party’s electoral campaign logo L-Aqwa Zmien (a grave abuse), Schembri says that he chose to work for the government because he thought he could replicate in government the skills he uses for his business.

I read that bit and said to myself, with a laugh: “Ah, so that’s why the first thing you did was set up secret offshore companies for everybody involved in your government business schemes, just like you set up secret offshore companies to siphon profits off from your actual business.”

Schembri, over the signature of ‘chief of staff to the Prime Minister’ also calls the Nationalist Party leader – his boss’s electoral rival – “deranged”, and says that Joseph Muscat is his best friend.

He then tries to tug at our heart-strings by telling us that “the last few months have been awful for my family” – all of this above the sign-off of ‘chief of staff to the Prime Minister’, which he erroneously hyphenates, and below the Labour Party campaign logo.

The worst bits are when he manipulates people’s lack of knowledge about FIAU reports, magisterial inquiries and criminal investigations. He says that there is not one bit of evidence against him, completely ignoring the stack – for it’s a stack – of Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit reports.

He says that it is untrue that the police have failed to investigate him, because there is an inquiry ordered by the Prime Minister himself. But it wasn’t the Prime Minister who ordered the inquiry into Keith Schembri’s illicit activities. It was the ‘Egrant’ inquiring magistrate himself who said that, based on the documents submitted to him, there should be a separate inquiry into Keith Schembri’s dealings, by another magistrate.

And a magisterial inquiry has nothing to do with a criminal investigation by the police. It is a separate matter by a constitutionally distinct power: the separation of powers means that the police and the judiciary are completely distinct.

Yes, the police did cover up for Keith Schembri and fail to investigate him. The police received not one but several reports by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, on the basis of which they should have immediately launched a criminal investigation, but they did not. When the Commissioner of Police – then Michael Cassar – received the first of a series of those reports, he resigned within 24 hours rather than have to take action against the Prime Minister’s chief of staff.

Keith Schembri also says in his round-robin email that his business – which one, the legitimate or the illegitimate? – has been doing so well that he “achieved financial security a decade ago”. Please spare us the lies. A decade ago he was just 33. Nobody achieves permanent financial security at 33, unless their name is Mark Zuckerberg.

Schembri’s Malta-incorporated companies have been registering losses in accounts audited by Brian Tonna for the last few years. Meanwhile, his secret offshore companies have been revealed by the Panama Papers to have had movements of hundreds of thousands of euros (I don’t wish to say millions, but there we are) from sources that can’t be pinpointed.

So unless the “chief-of-staff” to the Prime Minister is using his undeclared offshore companies to siphon money out of his registered Malta businesses for archetypal tax evasion purposes (he also admitted to having a Swiss bank account, but only because the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit found it first and the press got hold of the information), then Keith Schembri is running his loss-making, extended-credit-to-customers Malta business as a front for something more sinister.

I don’t know why we should be surprised that organised crime has insinuated its tentacles into the highest echelons of government in Malta, using democracy for the purpose while undermining it thoroughly. If it happened in Italy and Eastern Europe, it can happen here, where the institutions of state are so much weaker.

Read Keith Schembri’s email below, and on Saturday, get ready to boot him out together with his crooked best friend – then hope for the best outcome for the country, which is not the same thing as the best outcome for this underhand, scheming sleaze who has done so much damage and hopes to carry on ripping us off.

Keith Schembri with his best friend