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Egrant inquiry concluded, Prime Minister, PN want it published

Attorney General looks into 'voluminous' report

Magistrate Aaron Bugeja led the inquiry into the claims. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Magistrate Aaron Bugeja led the inquiry into the claims. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Updated July 22 

The inquiry into claims that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's wife owned secret Panama company Egrant, a story which rattled Malta's political landscape, has been finalised. 

Magistrate Aaron Bugeja finalised his inquiry after 15 months and handed it to the Attorney General, but no details have yet been divulged. 

In a short statement through the Department of Information, the Attorney General said on Saturday that a detailed analysis of the inquiry is ongoing and that the conclusive report was "voluminous".

The Prime Minister said he had taken note of the announcement.

"According to the Maltese legal system, it is the Attorney General who decides whether an inquiry can be published or not. The Prime Minister asked for the inquiry to be published."

The Prime Minister said he will give his reaction immediately upon publication.

The inquiry was based on a claim made by assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia that Michelle Muscat was the owner of Egrant, based on the testimony of a Russian whistleblower, a former employee of Pilatus Bank.

The Prime Minister had then called it the "biggest political lie ever told" in Malta and pledged to "resign immediately" should a magisterial inquiry into the matter find any connection.

The claim sparked a political storm to the extent that the general election date was moved forward.

Leaks through the Panama Papers had shown that Egrant Inc was opened on the same day as another two Panama companies owned by Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri. The three companies were opened by Nexia BT, owned by Brian Tonna.

Beginning in April 2017, the inquiry sought to establish if Ms Muscat was the Egrant owner and if any Pilatus accounts were held by Dr Muscat and his family, former EU Commissioner John Dalli, Mr Schembri or Dr Mizzi, as well as whether they were involved in any suspicious financial transactions or acts of corruption or money laundering involving Azerbaijani nationals.

Magistrate Bugeja told a European Parliament rule of law delegation in June he had worked single-handedly “around the clock” and interviewed more than 100 people for the inquiry.

 

Read: Fact-checking Egrant claims on PM’s website

Publish inquiry in full - PN

The Nationalist Party demanded publication of the inquiry and said it would react once it is published. 

It said the inquiry was meant to establish whether Ms Muscat was the ultimate beneficiary of Egrant, whether the prime minister or members of his family, or former minister John Dalli, Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi had any accounts at Pilatus Bank.

It should also establish their involvement in suspicious financial transactions in Pilatus Bank or in acts of corruption or money laundering with Azeris, the PN said.

Former Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil also said it is in the public interest that the Egrant inquiry report is "published, published immediately and published in full".

We expect resignations - PL

In a brief statement, the Labour Party said that Dr Muscat had clearly asked for the inquiry to be published in full.

Furthermore, the PL added, the Prime Minister had repeatedly pledged to resign if the inquiry found even a speck of truth to claims linking Egrant to him or his family. 

"The Labour Party expects others to do likewise," the PL said. 

Scepticism in PN camp

The news sparked a series of reactions on social media, including from pressure group Occupy Justice. 

PN MP Jason Azzopardi claimed Dr Muscat already had a copy of the report, noting “evident coordination” between his office and the Attorney General in the timing of their statements.

Others, including PN MP Karol Aquilina, suggested key evidence had been lost when Pilatus chairman Seyed Ali Sadr Hasheminejad was filmed, hours after Ms Caruana Galizia’s report was published, leaving the bank at night carrying large suitcases.

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