Aircraft enthusiasts this morning informed The Malta Independent about what they described as a mysterious flight that took off from Luqa Airport early this morning and landed in Baku, Azerbaijan.
It is not known whether the flight was in any way connected with the developments of the Panama Papers scandal which emerged yesterday evening, as Prime Minister Joseph Muscat ordered a magisterial inquiry into allegations made by blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia that the owner of Egrant – the elusive third company opened in Panama besides those of No Portfolio Minister Konrad Mizzi and OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri – is no one but the PM’s wife.
Dr Muscat has denied the claims and said he will institute legal action against the blogger.
Last night’s flight to Baku adds to the mystery of the ongoing saga, as there are no direct flights between Malta and Azerbaijan. Aircraft enthusiasts who contacted The Malta Independent said that the flight was chartered, left Malta at around 4am and later landed in Baku.
Among the allegations made by Daphne Caruana Galizia, which are being refuted by the Prime Minister, is that one of the daughters of Azerbaijani leader, Leyla Alijeva, through an offshore company transferred huge sums of money to all the three companies named in the Panama Papers, and that she transferred US$1.017 million to Egrant.
The plane later flew to Dubai.
James Leviton, on behalf of Vistajet's PR firm Finsbury, was quoted by Malta Today as confirming the flight to Baku, but said there was no one aboard.
"I can confirm that there was a flight to Azerbaijan but it had no passengers or cargo. It was purely a ferry flight," he was reported to have said.
Pilatus Bank from The Malta Independent on Vimeo.
After the Prime Minister's press conference, the Nationalist Party media, Net, broadcast footage of the man identified to be the owner of Pilatus Bank, said to be an Iranian National named Seyed Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, together with another woman, said to be the risk manager also by blogger Caruana Galizia, leaving this evening with large bags.