The Malta Independent 23 September 2018, Sunday

PM remains committed to publishing Egrant inquiry but will not act brashly in view of court case

Thursday, 13 September 2018, 11:30 Last update: about 9 days ago

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this morning said he remains committed to publishing the Egrant inquiry, but said he will not act brashly while there is an ongoing constitutional case.

Speaking after the inauguration of the local offices of Ferratum Bank, Muscat said not a single legal expert had backed him when he pledged to publish the full report.

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“In fact, everyone has cautioned me against its publication, and I have been warned that this could set a dangerous precedent for future cases. But my commitment remains to publish the inquiry,” the PM told journalists.

Muscat said his office was looking at how the inquiry could be published. Earlier this week it was reported that Muscat’s personal lawyer, Pawlu Lia, was redacting parts of the document prior to publication.

Opposition Leader Adrian Delia has gone to court, claiming that he was being placed at a political disadvantage because he did not also have a full copy of the inquiry. Delia says that his role is also a constitutional one, and as such he should be treated equally and given a copy of the report.

He has summoned 23 witnesses to testify in the constitutional case, including the PM.

Speaking this morning, Muscat said that in view of the constitutional case filed by Delia he believed that, with respect to the rule of law he should not act brashly and publish the report before listening to what the court was saying.

The Egrant inquiry, the conclusions of which were published in mid-July, did not find evidence that the third Panama company belonged to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat or his wife Michelle, or that the PM’s wife had received a $1.07 million payment into a Dubai account.  It also found that declaration of trust handed to Magistrate Aaron Bugeja contained falsified signatures.

New Ferratum Bank offices inaugurated in Gzira

The bank, which was founded in Finland in 2005, has operations in over 25 countries and will employ around 300 people in its offices on Malta.  The bank specialises in digital banking, starting initially from consumer lending and then moving into banking itself.  The bank uses a FinTech philosophy, meaning that it uses technology to improve activities in finance. The use of smart phones for mobile banking, investing services and crypto-currency is but one example of what FinTech stands for.  

The founder of the bank Jorma Jokela explained that one needs three strong elements to operate such a business successfully; capable people, a regulator which supports new ideas and a government that understands the power of data and of technology like FinTech.  It is these elements that make such success possible, Jokela said.

Muscat meanwhile expressed his satisfaction at the investment the bank had made in opening new, revamped offices in Malta, saying that this was a statement of commitment towards Malta as a centre for financial services and that it signified an element of trust in the opportunities that the country offers.

He explained that there was a high level of investment in making sure that Malta’s financial regulatory bodies are modernised and remain with the times and indeed jump to a new level of excellence.  At the same time, he said, the role of regulators is not just to supervise and sanction, but also to enable the banking sector to innovate and develop.  This should be done with a clear vision and policy framework that encourages innovation, empowers consumers and ensures financial integrity, the Prime Minister said.

Muscat said that Malta had embarked on a ‘new and exciting’ journey embracing innovation through leadership in blockchain and FinTech businesses.

 

 

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