Brian Tonna, the Managing Director of Nexia BT, has denied claims by journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia that Egrant – the mysterious third Panama company – had received a payment of US$1.017 million from Al Sahra FZCO – a company whose ultimate beneficial owner is Leyla Aliyeva, the daughter of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
Mrs Caruana Galizia said the transaction, which was described as a “loan payment”, was made from Al Sahra’s account at Pilatus Bank in Malta, to an account which Egrant Inc holds with a bank in Dubai.
She claimed that this “was not the only ‘loan payment’ which Egrant Inc received from Al Sahra FZCO, but it was the largest single transaction,” and that “other ‘loan payments’ were of around US$100,000 each and made twice a week over several weeks in January, February and March last year.”
Reacting to Caruana Galizia’s latest blogpost, Brian Tonna said: “Egrant Inc – which, as I have already stated publicly, was a (shelf) company which I owned throughout its existence – never had a bank account, in Dubai or elsewhere. The company is now dissolved.
Egrant Inc never received any payment whatsoever from Al Sahra FZCO, whether as a loan payment or otherwise. In fact, and again as I have already stated publicly, Egrant Inc never traded and never had or tried to open any bank accounts, from which it follows that it never made or received any payments at all.
Nexia BT was not engaged by Egrant Inc, or indeed anybody else, in connection with the payments alleged to have been made, and never contacted Pilatus Bank, or indeed any bank, in that regard.”