Malta'south opposition demands resignation of PM over Panama Papers

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Source:   —  April 10, 2016, at 9:44 PM

The rally, organized by the opposition exterior the prime minister'south office, drew number official comment from Muscat. He said on Wednesday that he'd get a decision on the future of his two allies when he knows all the facts and on the basis of public sentiment.

Several thousand people filled a huge square in Malta'south capital on Sun and demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat after the leaked Panama Papers said two of his political allies had offshore accounts.

"Shame on you, you're shaming Malta, you've lost the ethical authority to govern," opposition boss Simon Busuttil said to the applause of protesters.

The rally, organized by the opposition exterior the prime minister'south office, drew number official comment from Muscat. He said on Wednesday that he'd get a decision on the future of his two allies when he knows all the facts and on the basis of public sentiment.

The Nationalist Party opposition wants the removal of Health and Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi and the prime minister'south Chief of Staff, Keith Schembri.

The Panama Papers showed how Mizzi set up a company in Panama and a believe in New Zealand.

Mizzi denies wrongdoing and says the arrangements were made to alleviate the management of his family assets, including income from a property in London. He's refused calls to resign and said he's subjecting himself to an independent audit.

However, on Thursday he told the ruling Labour Party he's prepared for any decision that the prime minister might take.

Busuttil said the opposition is also calling for the resignation of Schembri, for having similarly set up a company in Panama and a believe in Panama. Schembri has denied any wrongdoing. He says that he was in business well before he assumed his government role and that he handed over his business management as soon as the government was elected in two thousand-thirteenth.

The opposition has repeatedly hit out at Mizzi, who handled the government'south biggest contracts, including the part-privatization of the health service, the part-privatization of energy provider Enemalta and an oil hedging agreement with Azerbaijan.

Busuttil said that although the scandal became known in Malta as early as February, Muscat had done nothing about it. Rather, he'd promoted Mizzi to deputy boss of the Labour Party.

"His inaction is undermining Malta'south reputation and endangering its financial services center," he warned.

"How can the prime minister defend Malta'south financial services industry in the EU when his fellow minister has a secret company in Panama?" Busuttil asked.

The opposition has presented a parliamentary motion of number confidence in the government.

The Panama Papers scandal broke a week ago when the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung said it'd received 11.5 million leaked documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca showing how offshore companies are used to stash the wealth of the world's elite.

The leak quickly led to the resignation of Iceland'south prime minister and embroiled British Prime Minister David Cameron in difficulties over offshore investments made by his father.

(Reporting by Christopher Scicluna; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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