The Malta Independent 24 April 2019, Wednesday

Over €1.2 million spent on magisterial inquiry for Egrant case

Rebekah Cilia Tuesday, 2 October 2018, 07:00 Last update: about 8 months ago

The Egrant magisterial inquiry carried out by Magistrate Aaron Bugeja cost over €1.2 million in professional services.

This was revealed in a parliamentary question today put to the Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici by Government MP Clayton Bartolo.

The largest proportion of the costs amounting to just over €1 million were for professional works relating to forensics. Another significant cost was for professional works from a forensic accountant.

Other costs included works done by finance professionals, translations, consultation services and legal services.

The inquiry 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.

The conclusion of the inquiry were published by the Attorney General's Office on 22 July 2018.

The inquiry also did not find any evidence that the PM and his wife, Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi, or John Dalli were involved in corrupt practices or money laundering or suspect financial transactions deriving from the accounts of Politically Exposed Persons (PEP) in Azerbaijan, through Pilatus Bank.

The inquiry which spanned over 15 months was requested by the PM after claims, by slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, that his wife was the ultimate beneficial owner of Egrant, a company whose existence came to light in the Panama Papers revelations. The other two companies belonged to Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.

Caruana Galizia, who had spoken to former Pilatus Bank employee Maria Efimova (the Russian whistleblower), had claimed that that documents proving that Michelle Muscat was the UBO of Egrant were kept in the bank's kitchen safe. She had later claimed that $1.07 million had been transferred into an account held by Egrant in Dubai from an account held by a company called Sahra FZCO at Pilatus Bank.

The inquiry examined documents seized from Nexia BT and Pilatus Bank and interviewed many witnesses, including Daphne Caruana Galizia, Maria Efimova, the PM and his wife, Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi, John Dalli, Brian Tonna, Karl Cini, Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, Pierre Portelli and other officials.

The inquiry requested information from Panama, Belgium, the UAE, Germany and the US and used a number of technical and legal experts to analyse the allegations.


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