Last week’s 17 Black revelation was the latest version of events in a long stream of allegations, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Sunday.

Speaking at a political gathering in Msida, Dr Muscat said the report that the once secret offshore company belonged to a private businessman had been preceded by claims that it belonged to former minister John Dalli, members of the current administration, and even he himself.

Dr Muscat reiterated that he would await the conclusions of a magisterial inquiry into the matter, and said that not so long ago his political rivals had claimed that his wife Michelle had owned the offshore company Egrant.

“Things have been said in the past, and they turned out not to be true. I will await the conclusion of proper inquiries and take action on the basis of those inquiries,” he said.

Times of Malta and Reuters reported on Friday how investigators had been handed an intelligence report naming Electrogas power station director and businessman Yorgen Fenech as the owner of the mystery Dubai company17 Black.

On Saturday Dr Muscat flatly refused to say if he demanded more details about the “draft business plans” his chief of staff Keith Schembri had with 17 Black.

Dr Muscat said the Opposition had a choice to make, it could not ignore serious allegations of wrongdoing by some of its members while also calling for resignations from the government benches.

Watch: Muscat's first reaction to 17 Black report

Nationalist Party MEP David Casa, he said, was currently the subject of a number of allegations. The allegations, in media reports, relate to the misuse of European Parliament funds and drug abuse.

He could not call for the immediate resignation of members of the Labour government while also insist on remaining in office while inquiries were ongoing.

Likewise, Opposition leader Adrian Delia had in the past been subject to allegations that he had laundered money for London criminals. If he wanted to be taken seriously, he should have called for an independent inquiry into these claims, Dr Muscat said.

Earlier in his speech, the Labour leader told the party supporters how the country was being touted by the European Commission to have the most economic growth in it's latest forecasts.  

The Budget had come and gone, and the government was already working on next year's instalment. 

All this was, not his doing, but the fruit of a government that worked cohesively. 

"When I look around me and behind me, my colleagues are my friends and I thank them for being with me," he said. His comment on this came amidst media reports today that senior members of the administration had urged him to take action on the 17 Black reports. 

Satabank Saga

Dr Muscat also weighed in on the ongoing Satabank saga, saying he understood depositors' frustration, but action had to be taken.

Accounts at Satabank were frozen by the Malta Financial Services Authority last month which then appointed Ernst and Young (EY) to administer the bank’s assets in the best interests of depositors.

Dr Muscat said the GRTU had warned that some businesses were on the brink of closure because of the situation.

Dr Muscat said he was flabbergasted by the Opposition’s criticism of the way the authorities had acted.

“I scratch my head when I hear the Opposition. If the authorities don’t take action they criticise, and then they criticise if the authorities do take action,” he said.

This, Dr Muscat said, was the Opposition’s biggest problem: it cannot get its act together.

“They are like a group of self employed, everyone pulling their own way and working on their own,” he quipped.

Badmouthing Malta is the PN’ treat

Dr Muscat said the Opposition loved nothing more than to badmouth Malta in international fora.

“It goes down a treat for the Opposition. Whenever they see a chance to badmouth Malta, they gobble up the microphone, they can't help themselves,” he said.

Dr Muscat noted how the European Commission had recently weighed in on Malta’s anti-money laundering measures.

The Commission last week demanded that the Maltese authorities step up supervision of banks in its jurisdiction through a formal opinion delivered on Thursday.

In a statement, the Commission said it had adopted an opinion requiring the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) to continue taking additional measures to fully comply with its obligations under the fourth anti-money laundering directive.

Dr Muscat said that while he welcomed that chance to improve, he pointed out how other Member States had received similar feedback.

“But what is the difference between Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, and Malta? Why don't we hear panic from these countries? The difference my friends is the Opposition. In other countries, the Opposition parties put the best interest of their country first,” he said.

And, while the Opposition’s behaviour was unsavoury to him, Dr Muscat said he knew Maltese families were judging the situation judiciously.

“It isn't about writing how you feel on social media, or demonstrations, or talking politics in coffee shops. The time to show how you feel will come at upcoming the European Parliament elections,” he said.

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