The Malta Independent 23 February 2020, Sunday

‘It will come back to haunt him’ – Prime Minister says about Simon Busuttil's accusations

Saturday, 22 April 2017, 12:19 Last update: about 4 years ago

Allegations about the ownership of Egrant Inc, a company named in the Panama Papers, without providing concrete proof “will come back to haunt” Nationalist Party Leader Simon Busuttil, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.

He was addressing a press conference about the government’s success in reducing the rate of poverty by half, together with Family Minister Michael Farrugia.

Responding to questions from the press about the allegations made by journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia, Dr Muscat flatly claimed that “whoever fabricated the documents” made a number of mistakes.

Mrs Caruana Galizia yesterday uploaded a text on her personal blog which she claims to be two declarations of trusts, showing that shares in Egrant Inc are held by Mossack Fonseca nominees for "Mrs Michelle Muscat", also providing her date of birth, 16/05/1974, and her place of birth as Rabat, Malta. The address shown on the text and in the Panama Papers for Egrant, is: "EGRANT INC., 807956S, of The Penthouse, Suite 2, Capital Business Centra, Entrance C, Triq taz-Zwejt, San Gwann, SGN3000, Malta".

The Prime Minister said that whoever 'fabricated' the documents took the company address from the International Consortium of International Journalists website – from their Panama Papers database, adding that in fact, Egrant's true registered address is in Panama.

He also argued that whoever 'fabricated' the documents, wrote Michelle Muscat's place of birth as Rabat, when in fact she was born in Attard. He argued that the "Rabat" detail must have been taken from ‘some’ ID card registry.

He also argued that professionals found it strange that no passport number or residential address was mentioned on the text of the document.

Several hours after the allegation that Mrs Muscat is the beneficial owner of Egrant Inc, the Police Commissioner, upon the Prime Minister’s request, took the case to the duty Magistrate in order to launch an inquiry.

Asked whether the inquiry will be made public, as the Magistrate is not duty-bound to do so, Dr Muscat said:

“I will make a request for the inquiry. I asked for an inquiry to be launched as a private citizen, and as a citizen I have a right to ask the Attorney General for a copy. I will write and describe my intentions to publish, we are all aware of the sensitivity of the case”.

During a live debate yesterday evening on popular current affairs programme Xarabank, Dr Muscat argued that Egrant could not have been a Maltese address, as displayed on Mrs Caruana Galizia’s blog, and that the August 2015 date listed on the alleged declaration of trust text does not tally with the 2013 certificate of ownership of Nexia BT managing partner Brian Tonna.

“The companies have been listed as being in San Gwann on the ICIJ database but this is referring to intermediaries. Declarations of trusts should have the registered address of the company and the registered address of this company is in Panama. This is more proof that the documents have been completely falsified."



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