Alfred Mifsud says former partner threatened him: Caruana Galizia 'will come in handy'

Deputy Central Bank governor denies receiving cash for IT contract

Alfred Mifsud and Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Alfred Mifsud and Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia and the outgoing deputy governor of the Central Bank, Alfred Mifsud gave evidence this morning in a libel case instituted by Mr Mifsud after it was claimed he had received cash from the representative of an American software company tasked with changing Mid-Med Bank's IT system. Mr Mifsud had been Mid-Med chairman at the time.

Ms Caruana Galizia insisted that no source would fabricate a story which could potentially land him/her in prison.

She insisted that it went against her nature to press her sources but rather respected their discretion. Moreover, giving away her sources was something which she would never do since she knew that people approached her because they trusted her. Even her so-called ‘enemies’ knew that she was trustworthy. This trust kept her from revealing her source even in the unrelated case concerning Minister Chris Cardona.

She explained how she had been rather surprised when Anna Zelbst, Mr Mifsud's former partner, had gone to her with the story concerning corruption and money laundering in respect of her former partner.

This move had been totally unexpected since at the time, they had not been on friendly terms. On an earlier occasion, when she was introduced by Mr Mifsud during a chance encounter at a restaurant, Ms Zelbst had been rather ‘arrogant and aggressive’ in her regard.

Ms Caruana Galizia said that when Ms Zelbst turned up with the story, she was already aware that the couple's relationship was on the rocks.  She had even received photos from a third party where Mr Mifsud was seen on camera upon his return to Malta from a trip with his new girlfriend. She had not, however, revealed her knowledge to Ms Zelbst in order to avoid the woman further embarrassment.

Her 30-year experience in journalism had taught her no source would fabricate a story which could potentially land him in prison. Moreover, Ms Zelbst had even spoken to the police about the matter following a break in the couple's relationship back in 2006.

Pressed by Mr Mifsud's lawyer, Ms Caruana Galizia said that the relationship between Mr Mifsud and Ms Zelbst had been ‘an open situation.’ She did not need to ask her source for proof since the woman herself provided the proof.

Ms Zelbst had allegedly been present when sums of cash were handed over to her former partner at the couple's Balzan home.  

Besides, the businessman involved in the alleged corruption, the late Ronnie Demajo, was a personal acquaintance of Ms Caruana Galizia.  

Before publishing the story, Ms Caruana Galizia said she had confronted Mr Mifsud about the allegations. Although the two had always shared a relationship of mutual respect, the story had a news value which could not be overlooked.  

At that time, Mr Mifsud had been on pole to become Central Bank Governor. But as a journalist, she could not stand by and risk the country facing future harm. People in top posts should not have any shadow cast upon them.

Following publication of the story, Mr Mifsud pulled out of the race and backed Mario Vella to the post.

Mifsud says partner threatened she would go to Caruana Galizia

Taking the witness stand, Mr Mifsud explained that following the couple’s second breakup, his former partner had begun to blackmail him, threatening that she would spoil his chances of becoming Governor unless he handed over a sum of money and property in Gozo.

When he told her that he had no intention of going back since he was involved in another relationship, his former partner had told him that “Daphne will now come in handy.” He had warned her to be careful, telling her that the story was false and that she was entering dangerous waters. However, Ms Zelbst had apparently not heeded his advice.

He had warned her to be careful, telling her that the story was false and that she was entering dangerous waters. However, Ms Zelbst had not heeded his advice.

Following publication of the story, the police commenced criminal investigations. However, Mr Mifsud said, it was only now that he had learnt, from Ms Caruana Galizia’s testimony, that his former partner had gone to the police back in 2006. The police had never spoken to him at the time.

Mr Mifsud strongly denied the allegations made against him, stating that he had never met Mr Demajo at his home.

The process involving the acquisition of the new software had been an open and transparent one all along, intended to improve the bank’s efficiency, he said.

Moreover, the police had not traced any of the alleged payments to his bank accounts. Certain deposits had however been found in Ms Zelbst’s account.

Referring to his former partner, Mr Mifsud declared “Today after all this I believe she is capable of anything.” 

Lawyer Pawlu Lia appeared for Mr Mifsud.
Lawyer Joseph Zammit Maempel appeared for Ms Caruana Galizia.