Thursday, April 14, 2016

Panama Papers: Businessman named in leaks linked to PM aide

Tuesday, April 12, 2016, 07:00 by
Ivan Camilleri

Panama Papers: Businessman named in leaks linked to PM aide
No reply from Schembri on Sladden connection

A Maltese businessman whose name appears in the Panama Papers leaks had business connections with the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, the Times of Malta has found.

Pierre Sladden, who, say the latest revelations, last November assigned an invoice of almost $1 million to a British Virgin Islands company, is involved in another two companies with Mr Schembri.

Research by this newspaper shows Mr Sladden sits on the board of directors of Cinebiss Ltd together with Mr Schembri’s father, Alfio.

Malta Financial Services Au-thority documents show that while Mr Schembri personally owns half the company’s shares, the other half belong to Spira Trading Ltd, owned by the Sladden family and former film commissioner Oliver Mallia. Sources said the company was involved in the film industry and had been set up in 2007.

Mr Sladden, who owns a company called Redmap Construction Ltd, is also involved in a film company with the Schembris – Grigal Films Ltd.

In this company, formed in 2012 and now in dissolution, Mr Sladden is a director, together with Phyllis Muscat, who, until recently, served as head of the CHOGM task force appointed by the Prime Minister and Mr Schembri Snr.

Apart from Mr Sladden, the company’s shareholders are Ms Muscat’s company Well Being Services Ltd and Kasco Holdings, which is fully owned by Mr Schembri.

The Australian Financial Review reported over the weekend that, according to the Panama Papers, Nexia BT last November asked Mossack Fonseca’s office in the British Virgin Islands to have the nominee directors certify an assignment of debt between companies linked to Mr Sladden.

The documents alleged that Redmap Construction Ltd owed Cyprus company A2Z Consulta almost $1 million for “the provision of services consisting in quality checks and negotiation with suppliers”.
Two other Maltese names have surfaced in the Panama Papers

The Times of Malta asked Mr Sladden to explain the €1 million invoice and say whether he had business connections with Mr Schembri through companies not mentioned in the Panama Papers.

Replying to the Times of Malta, Mr Sladden said: “Redmap does not owe and has not paid or otherwise transferred any funds to A2Z Consulta. My company PS & Sons is 50 per cent shareholder of Castille Investments, which acquired Canberra House.” Mr Sladden also wrote that his interests were private and his commercial interests his own. Questions were also e-mailed to Mr Schembri about business connections with Mr Sladden but they re-mained unanswered.

Apart from Health and Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi, Mr Schembri and Mr Sladden, two other Maltese names have surfaced in the Panama Papers. They are Malcolm Scerri, a business associate of Mr Schembri, and Adrian Hillman, former managing director of Allied Newspapers Ltd.

The two were mentioned as having companies set up for them in the British Virgin Islands by Nexia BT. Mr Schembri also has a similar set-up. Both in the past and also presently, Mr Sladden was contracted to do work for Allied Newspapers and Progress Press.

Mr Sladden is a partner in Cas-tille Investments Ltd, a company which, last year, bought property from Allied Newspapers in Valletta which is being redeveloped.

Mr Sladden’s company Redmap was also involved in the building of Progress Press’s new printing facilities in Mrieħel, together with other contractors.

An independent board of inquiry set up by the Allied Newspapers Group is investigating allegations involving Mr Schembri and Mr Hillman in connection with the group. Both Mr Schembri and Mr Hillman have denied the allegations.


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