Tista' taqra bil- Malti.
The permanent secretary to the finance ministry will continue testifying on Friday morning during the proceedings of the public inquiry.
When first summoned, Camilleri had testified that he had requested an urgent meeting after the ministry heard from the banks that Electrogas was defaulting on its loan repayments. This transpired following a question by Dr Jason Azzopardi.
The emails exchange between the stakeholders including the then Minister of Tourism Konrad Mizzi but excluded the finance ministry.
Comodini Cachia says that on Wednesday, Lawrence Cutajar will continue testifying and on Friday Louis Grech will testify.
Witnesses to be called to testify: Minister Owen Bonnici (18.09), Chris Fearne (16.09) and José Herrera (no date) will be summoned to testify.
The permanent secretary says that the representative from the Finance Ministry present at the meeting was not him, saying that he only heard about it through the press.
"The accountancy board is autonomous and independent. Was established in 1979. Has the same status as the MFSA. I am only aware of the administration of the accountancy. I never attended their meetings. They have no obligation to inform me about their discussions. I know what you are referring to. I'm not stupid. Certain things were public. But I have no right to ask what action was taken. The reply would be 'stay out of it', the moment I do it I would be breaching the law," he explains, adding that the responsible person should be summoned to reply if they had a specific question.
The regulator, the witness replies.
"Yes and in more detail," he replies.
"We must be resolved to do the right thing. If there are suspicious transaction reports (STRs) to be filed, they must be filed. There are certain sectors which are still lacking. This is a collective problem, if you are not prepared to do your work hand in hand with the authorities, then the chain is broken," Camilleri says.
"One may not be correct in saying that the country's institutions will collapse. International institutions are already factoring in the possibility of the country being grey listed. On a day to day basis we might not see such a great difference. It will have an impact on investment on which we greatly depend. We will become less attractive," he says.
"Our success depends on owning the project (based on the Moneyval recommendations)," he says.
"Hu l-fama u ntefa l-bahar," he says, as he explains that this will have an impact on correspondent banks.
"We have an action plan which we are implementing. In October, Malta has to send in its first report. This will be evaluated. We don't when they will decide on Malta. We're doing our best to avoid grey listing," Camilleri says.
"Grey listing means that a detailed programme of reforms would have to be drawn up and that the country would be closely monitored by the FATF," Camilleri says.
FATF was setup by the G20. Moneyval falls under the Council of Europe, it is not the European Union, he explains.
Dr Azzopardi tells the witness that he does not know what the witness is on about.
Camilleri repeats, adding "I had replied to him, I don't look anybody in the eyes."
"Who are you talking about? Can you tell us?" Dr Azzopardi says.
"Konrad Mizzi," the witness mumbles.
"When you found out that the chairman had gone behind your back, did you ask about it?" Azzopardi says.
Camilleri says that he wrote to Waitt as explained before.
Camilleri says that Farrugia Portelli was appointed as Public Relations Officer by Minister Konrad Mizzi.
The direct order would be first approved by the ministry concerned. The ministry would have to conduct the research, justify the direct order and the ministry in question would sign it, and it is signed either by the Minister or his delegate. They take responsibility for the direct orders. It only goes to the finance ministry for financial clearance, explains Camilleri.
Dr Comodini Cachia points out that a number of direct orders were given to Nexia BT, Beat Consultancy, Mifsud Bonnici advocates (at the same time Aron Mifsud Bonnici was company secretary), William Waitt, among others.
Camilleri says that it is wrong to think that all direct orders are given from Finance Ministry. He reads out an email sent to Projects Malta CEO where he had expressed his concern on the number of direct orders given out. He had recommended that the procurement system is opened to more competition.
The presentations were usually carried out at the Finance Ministry.
"Nothing. And I asked about this. On 4 June 2015, I asked about the board's function vis-a-vis the concession of the three state hospitals. The reply I was given was "the project does not fall under Projects Malta but its a government project. Projects Malta is administering the project for the government. The contracting authority is the ministry of energy and health,"' he says.
The Energy Minister appointed him on Projects Malta. It was Konrad Mizzi who had appointed him.
Asked he answered to Konrad Mizzi, Camilleri says that he did not answer to anyone.
"We were a service provider, like Mimcol and others," he says.
He says that for the 2012 concerning the curtains at the Palace was registered with the Prime Minister (who appointed him).
He registered an objection on the state guarantee given to Electrogas with the Cabinet, the minister concerned, and the principal permanent secretary.
The permanent secretary at the finance minister says that he had advised them to document everything and minute every negotiating meeting.
Camilleri says that he did not communicate with Joseph Muscat but with the Principal Permanent Secretary.
"In 2012 someone asked me to make a statement whereby the issue was not against the law. I had offered my resignation to the Prime Minister at that time. The PM had replied a second later and told me not to dream of doing this."
This was connected to the curtains at the President's Palace and the Office of the President, Camilleri confirms.
At the time, George Abela was president.
Judge Mallia notes that Malta has been EU Member State since 2004. Why the spotlight on Malta now?
Camilleri replies that the spotlight on tax evasion has been ongoing. He says that Malta has been in the spotlight due to the tax imputation system. The system was approved in the accession negotiations. Some remain critical of it.
Chief Justice Said Pullicino asks about sanctioning.
Camilleri says that he was always against tax amnesties. He explains the approach.
"If I am going to make a tax amnesty will be a declaration of assets and the tax should have been paid. But with a tax amnesty, if I have evaded tax you are blessing my actions," he says.
Camilleri: Various issues. I'll explain. There was a need for more coordination and cooperation between the different agencies. There are 'huge' constraints between the agencies. There are more MoUs in place to have more coordination and information sharing between the agencies. There were issues of capacity building – not only human resources, but also know how and systems – we've invested heavily. We've strengthened the regulatory framework wherever it was needed. 43 MoUs between the different institutions were signed to facilitate investigation. Another important pillar was effectiveness, investigations and prosecutions, and if it is the case, convictions.
"I was more cautious around him. I would double check everything. They were allegations. No one was convicted to date," he replies.
"We couldn't investigate it ourselves. We had no powers, the investigating powers are autonomous. Ask the politicians, I am an administrative person," he highlights.
Judge Mallia rephrases saying in your opinion could something have been differently? Actively perhaps?
Comodini Cachia asks: Policy setting perhaps?
Camilleri says that the finance ministry gave them the necessary resources and it was up to the departments involved. He replies that policy setting is from the law and the law is not up to us.
Camilleri says that he would not know.
The law gives two avenues: administrative or criminal, he explains.
"This was a tax issue and we don't involve ourselves in these issues."
He says that everyone needs to do their job and everyone knows what their job is.
"I was always available to assist."
Camilleri says that there are ongoing investigations.
"This is a very difficult question for me."
The witness says that the government's revenue comes from businesses.
"Since WWII, the government had just one obsession, due to our history, the economy and employment," he says.
In 2013, the government had declared that it would like to be business friendly. What was the effect of the business friendly? the Chief Justice asks.
Camilleri replies that in his opinion, it does not appear that other governments were not business friendly. The generation of wealth does not come from the government. The government's revenue is based on various sources – income tax, social security contributions, and a number of excise duties, etc., he explains.
"Despite its size, Malta has a diversified economy," he adds.
He says that through its diversification of the economy, the impact of the financial crisis was minimal on Malta.
Camilleri says that he would not know. He adds that in Malta there has not been a single project which was spared from controversy. They have all been referred to the NAO, he says.
Dr Comodini Cachia reads out another email in which Electrogas and Mizzi's ministry were informed about a PR from Socar to be sent out.
She reads a reply by Ronald Mizzi who was permanent secretary to Mizzi's ministry, "some amendments from my end". She asks the witness where you ever asked to see PRs sent out by SOCAR and Electrogas?
"No," he replies.
He replied that he acted immediately, replying to those people which were in copy on Brinkworth's email, adding that he informed Minister Scicluna immediately.
Camilleri replies that the finance minister only got to know in January 2018. The negotiations were done by Minister Konrad Mizzi and the excise tax amounted to an average of €5 million and were paid by Enemalta.
The company never informed me about this, Camilleri says. He adds that he only spoke to the company
Another email from Turab Musayev is read out:
Yorgen and I spoke to Konrad Mizzi and David… We clearly emphasized that current deadline is not attainable. They agreed. An extension of the bridge loan is not on the table."
Catherine Halpin : I will let jim that his company is in the media…It's all just pre election talk.
Yorgen Fenech: Welcome to Maltese elections 🙂
Catherine Halpin: Peter (from Electrogas) very worried that the banks are getting nervous. Lots of questions by the new potential ones.
Yorgen Fenech: He's right, and today Simon Busuttil said that he would remove the tanker from Delimara and buy from the interconnector. Hogwash I say. We have to hold on tight for a week.
Camilleri notes that projects were undertaken by individual ministries.
He adds that the state guarantee was decided by Cabinet and all the ministers collectively decided on it.
"Sometimes I might have over did it. Maybe I was over-cautious. Did I did it for me? No. If things went wrong, there were €72 million in breakage fees, and the government would have to take control of the power station at €522 million," he explains.
"We greatly reduced the risks," he remarks.
"I wanted to have a safety net in case things went south," he says.
"We managed it and it was not easy," he says.
These were BOV, KfW, HSBC London,Société Générale, BNP Paribas London, DZ Bank, Crédit Industriel et Commercial, and Rivage ( a finance company).
The public inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is tasked with determining whether the state did all it could to prevent the assassination.
The board of inquiry is chaired by Judge Emeritus Michael Mallia, and composed of Chief Justice Emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino and Madame Justice Abigail Lofaro.
Lawyers Therese Comodini Cachia, Jason Azzopardi, and Peter Caruana Galizia, assisted the family.