PM de­nies Egrant is his wife’s, to li­bel DCG, does not or­der investigation

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Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - He­lena Grech

Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat has chal­lenged blog­ger Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia to pro­vide the doc­u­ments she al­leged to have show­ing that his wife, Michelle Mus­cat, is the ul­ti­mate ben­e­fi­cial owner of Egrant Inc. He promised to be fil­ing for li­bel against Mrs Caru­ana Gal­izia, some­thing he has done only once be­fore in nine years of pub­lic life, he said.

Egrant Inc is the third Pana­ma­nian com­pany that was ac­quired by Nexia BT, whose man­ag­ing di­rec­tor is Brian Tonna. He fa­cil­i­tated the ac­qui­si­tion of three Panama-based com­pa­nies through the ser­vices of Mos­sack Fon­seca, Hearn ville Inc, Till gate Inc and Egrant Inc. The first two be­longed to Min­is­ter Kon­rad Mizzi and the PM’s chief of staff Keith Schem­bri. Panama is a fi­nan­cially se­cre­tive ju­ris­dic­tion, with the Panama Pa­pers scan­dal ex­pos­ing the world’s elite con­ceal­ing their wealth.

Mrs Caru­ana Gal­izia al­leged that one of the daugh­ters of the Azer­bai­jani leader, Leyla Ali­jeva, through an off­shore com­pany, trans­ferred large sums of money to all three com­pa­nies, and that she trans­ferred US$1.017 mil­lion to Egrant.

The Prime Min­is­ter cat­e­gor­i­cally de­nied the claims, and said that he holds Op­po­si­tion leader Si­mon Busut­til ac­count­able for this “at­tack” on his fam­ily.

“This is the big­gest po­lit­i­cal lie that was ever said in the his­tory of Malta. I stand here again, be­fore all Malta and Gozo, and cat­e­gor­i­cally deny in my name, in the name of my wife, in the name of my fam­ily that I ever had, have, a type of com­pany or ac­count not de­clared in Malta or out­side of th­ese is­lands.”

Dr Mus­cat called a snap press con­fer­ence just min­utes af­ter Mrs Caru­ana Gal­izia made the claims.

Mem­bers of the press were given a 10 minute’s no­tice in or­der for Dr Mus­cat to “cat­e­gor­i­cally” deny th­ese claims, and an­nounce that he will be tak­ing le­gal ac­tion against Mrs Caru­ana Gal­izia.

“I add that I never signed, nor my wife, any type of doc­u­ment that trans­fers any type of a com­pany to me. I never signed, I was never of­fered to sign.”

Mrs Caru­ana Gal­izia al­leged that there are two sep­a­rate doc­u­ments to back up the claims she had made but has failed to re­pro­duce them on her per­sonal blog.

“I can­not al­low a lie like this to con­tinue, es­pe­cially as it’s re­layed by Si­mon Busut­til and his me­dia. I am here to be ex­tremely clear, that if there is any form of proof, this comes out. I chal­lenge her to prove what she is say­ing im­me­di­ately.”

He chal­lenged, not just Dr Busut­til and Mrs Caru­ana Gal­izia, any mem­ber of the pub­lic to come for­ward with in­for­ma­tion. He stressed, mul­ti­ple times through­out his ad­dress, that any doc­u­ments pro­vided would have to go through a rig­or­ous au­then­ti­ca­tion process.

Asked by The Malta In­de­pen­dent whether, for the sake of transparency and to clear his name in the eyes of the pub­lic, he would be is­su­ing a full investigation into Pi­la­tus Bank, he said that, “there are au­thor­i­ties who de­cide them­selves to in­quire or in­ves­ti­gate. I cat­e­gor­i­cally deny the al­le­ga­tions made against my fam­ily.” Dr Mus­cat said that if we start in­ter­fer­ing with Malta’s fi­nan­cial ser­vices, the pub­lic will be neg­a­tively im­pacted, and not Joseph Mus­cat.”

The in­sti­tu­tion re­spon­si­ble for in­ves­ti­gat­ing fi­nan­cial crimes is the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Anal­y­sis Unit. In ad­di­tion, the Malta Po­lice Force also has an eco­nomic crime’s unit.

Dr Mus­cat said that the Panama Pa­pers scan­dal as re­vealed by the In­ter­na­tional Con­sor­tium of In­ves­tiga­tive Jour­nal­ists (ICIJ) proves that the claims al­leged by Mrs Caru­ana Gal­izia are a com­plete fabrication. He ar­gued that the ICIJ did not shy away from nam­ing other state lead­ers, such was the case of the Ice­landic Prime Min­is­ter who had to re­sign, there­fore if the claim was in­deed true, the ICIJ would not have shied away from pub­lish­ing it one year ago, when the scan­dal broke.

He then said that he is dis­ap­pointed too with the sit­u­a­tion be­cause such al­le­ga­tions act as a de­ter­rent for today’s youth to en­ter pol­i­tics.

“I will fight the po­lit­i­cal fight with the truth, not with fabri­cated lies”.

He said the truth will all come out in a court of law, and it will ex­pose how this is the “big­gest po­lit­i­cal lie in Malta’s his­tory”.

Mrs Caru­ana Gal­izia’s al­le­ga­tions about the Prime Min­is­ter and Michelle Mus­cat

Mrs Caru­ana Gal­izia al­leged that in a safe at Pi­la­tus Bank, “docu- ments are held per­tain­ing to Rus­sian clients of the bank, and to Mal­tese PEPs, in­clud­ing John Dalli, con­sul­tant to Prime Min­is­ter Mus­cat, and Keith Schem­bri… both of whom have ac­counts in the bank in their own per­sonal names”.

She also al­leged that in a safe in the kitchen at the bank, there are doc­u­ments which prove that Egrant Inc’s shares are held by Mos­sack Fon­seca [the Pana­ma­nian law firm at the heart of the Panama Pa­pers scan­dal], as a nom­i­nee for Michelle Mus­cat. She claims that in an­other two doc­u­ments, the dec­la­ra­tions of trust and the ac­count open­ing form, also prove that Mrs Mus­cat is the ul­ti­mate ben­e­fi­cial owner.

Po­lice Com­mis­sioner should have sealed Pi­la­tus Bank in the pres­ence of a mag­is­trate Busut­til

Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Lawrence Cu­ta­jar should have sealed Pi­la­tus Bank in the pres­ence of a mag­is­trate, Op­po­si­tion leader Si­mon Busut­til said in a state­ment on Net TV last night.

In light of new al­le­ga­tions made by blog­ger Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia re­gard­ing claims that Mrs Mus­cat is the owner of Egrant, Dr Busut­til said the po­lice com­mis­sioner should have at least started an investigation and not leave ev­i­dence un­se­cured.

He said: “I am hold­ing the Po­lice Com­mis­sioner per­son­ally re­spon­si­ble and in­sist that the other re­spec­tive au­thor­i­ties do their job in the in­ter­est of our na­tion.”

Dr Busut­til said that the na­tion has been be­trayed and the least the Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat could have done was to call for an in­de­pen­dent in­quiry to carry out an investigation into th­ese al­le­ga­tions.

Dr Busut­til said that “the sole re­spon­si­bil­ity is that of the Prime Min­is­ter and not mine be­cause it was him who got us in this sit­u­a­tion.” He in­sisted that the peo­ple should join forces and re­unite against “the most cor­rupt gov­ern­ment in the coun­try’s his­tory” and give the peo­ple back their coun­try.

Chair­man of Green party Al­ter­nat­tiva Demokratika Arnold Cas­sola, in re­ac­tion, de­manded that Mrs Caru­ana Gal­izia should pub­lish any doc­u­ments since “Mal­tese demo­cratic val­ues are at stake”.

Leader of the newly-formed Par­tit Demokratiku Mar­lene Far­ru­gia took to so­cial me­dia to say that “in the light of the se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions that were made against the fam­ily of the Prime Min­is­ter, and in­volve the Pana­ma­nian com­pany Egrant, I ask the po­lice to im­me­di­ately launch an investigation, in­clud­ing an investigation into the other two com­pa­nies that were opened at the same time [one be­long­ing to Min­is­ter Mizzi and the other to Mr Schem­bri].

Ear­lier yes­ter­day Nex­i­aBT Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Brain Tonna had cat­e­gor­i­cally de­nied that US$1.017 mil­lion from an off­shore com­pany in Dubai whose ul­ti­mate ben­e­fi­cial owner is Ms Leyla Aliyeva, the daugh­ter of the Azer­bai­jani Pres­i­dent, was trans­ferred to Egrant Inc through Pi­la­tus Bank. He said that, as al­ready re­layed in pub­lic, Egrant Inc is a shelf com­pany and it never traded, had or has any bank ac­counts.

Also yes­ter­day, Min­is­ter Kon­rad Mizzi and Chief of Staff Keith Schem­bri filed two more li­bel suits, in ad­di­tion to the two filed ear­lier this week, against the blog­ger for al­leg­ing that “large sums of money” had been trans­ferred to Hearnville Inc and Till­gate Inc, their Pana­ma­nian com­pa­nies which are said to be in the process of liq­ui­da­tion. Mr Schem­bri said his Pana­ma­nian com­pany never held any bank ac­counts. Dr Mizzi is­sued his own state­ment to the same ef­fect.

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