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Taking things for Egrant(ed) - Arnold Cassola

The publication of the conclusions of the Egrant inquiry has caused a furore in the country. I can fully understand this, with regards to the political earthquake that it is provoking.

When the issue exploded in April last year, there were two strange things about this affair that immediately stood out. Normally, Daphne Caruana Galizia would reproduce a scan of the original documents when uncovering some hot issue. This time she did not and candidly admitted that she did not have the originals, which were somewhere up in a cloud. That seemed strange to me.

The second factor was the Prime Minister’s reaction. Normally, when Joseph Muscat is not telling the truth or acting to a rehearsed script you can easily see through his bluff as, for example, in the Electrogas affair, when he ‘solemnly’ declared to Reno Bugeja that he would resign if the new power station was not up and functioning in the space of two years.

I might be wrong, but with Egrant it seemed different to me from usual: unless Muscat is an Oscar-winning actor, his quick and angry reaction to the allegations had all the hallmarks of being genuine and spontaneous. 

The Aaron Bugeja enquiry has reached the conclusion that the documents were forged and consequently that Egrant does not belong to Michelle Muscat.  The question still to be asked is: who is the person more important than Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri, such as not to be named, that owns Egrant?

My colleagues at Alternattiva and I had warned from the start that it was a big mistake to mix up the Egrant issue, where there was no real tangible proof, with the Mizzi and Schembri misdeeds, where the proof of their machinations is abundant, documented, authentic and always on the increase.

We openly warned all those who were jumping the gun that by mixing the two issues together they were doing a great disservice to the quest for truth and they were actually creating obstacles to the course of justice. 

It was a big mistake to mix up the Egrant issue, where there was no real tangible proof, with the Mizzi and Schembri misdeeds

It was for this very reason that we were extremely clear that we would never attend the public demonstrations stimulated by the Egrant affair and which were being organised with a certain regularity by the supposedly Forza Nazzjonali.

Because of our clear stand on this issue, my colleagues and I at Alternattiva were subject to all kinds of name-calling. Indeed, we were also vilified and insulted by certain exponents of Forza Nazzjonali who should have known better. Happily, Simon Busuttil was not party to this barrage of bullying tactics. 

Today, it is sad to have to say that we were right.

Of course, I can only base my comments on the 50-page conclusion released for publication. Who knows what the other 1,450 pages contain?

If the Egrant documents were really forged, this would absolve Michelle Muscat from being the owner of the company. But the big question still remains: who is then the real owner of Egrant?   

Having said this, it does hurt me a lot to see that the political delinquent that goes by the name of Konrad Mizzi is trying to gain political mileage out of the inquiry conclusions by stating that the enquiry has absolved him and Schembri from any wrongdoing.

Regarding Mizzi, the facts connected to the Panama Papers remain there. They are solid as a rock and we do not need any inquiry to confirm that Mizzi and Schembri have abused of their public positions to behave in the most unethical of ways.

The Prime Minister must also explain why, after over 840 days, he is still protecting and covering up for Schembri and Mizzi.

Finally, I cannot refrain from commenting on another damning side effect of the Egrant conclusions. Members of Parliament David Agius, Kristy Debono and Clyde Puli were last year screaming all over the place that Egrant belonged to Michelle Muscat.

Now, they have had the temerity to be on the frontline issuing the PN fatwa on Busuttil.

With hypocrites of the ilk of Puli, Agius and Debono and with unscrupulous politicians like Mizzi and Schembri, why should we be surprised if the level of Maltese politics is really scraping the bottom of the barrel?

Arnold Cassola is former Alternattiva Demokratika chairman and former secretary general of the European Green Party. 

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