The Malta Independent 20 August 2019, Tuesday

PM, Schembri ‘colluded’ with Henley in media threat plan, used unofficial email addresses

Wednesday, 31 May 2017, 15:32 Last update: about 3 years ago

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his right hand man Keith Schembri and Justice Minister Owen Bonnici colluded with Henley and Partners in the latter’s attempt to threaten the press and stop it from writing against the controversial passport-for-sale scheme, information published by Daphne Caruana Galizia purports to show.

This was made public in an email Mrs Caruana Galizia sent to Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri, Owen Bonnici, IIP CEO Jonathan Cardona and Christian Kalin, group chairman of Henley & Partners. The letter was also copied to the Leader of the Opposition, to editors at The Malta Independent, the Times of Malta, Malta Today and LovinMalta, and to Emma Woolcott and Harry Eccles-Williams at Mishcon de Reya, the law firm used by Henley.

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The blogger revealed that the four government officials opted to use @josephmuscat.com email addresses, rather than their official @gov.mt address.

“I have in my possession evidence, in the form of email exchanges between the addressees of this message, that Henley & Partners' threat/decision to sue me in the UK courts was taken on instruction from, and in collusion with you, the Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, his chief of staff, Keith Schembri, and the Justice Minister, Owen Bonnici,” she wrote.

She claimed that Mr Kalin, following a meeting with the Justice Minister, outlined “a plan under which letters designed to intimidate with the threat of a financially ruinous and extremely cumbersome law suit in the "UK courts" were to be sent to me, to the Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi, and to ‘three media houses’ in an attempt at dissuading us from further scrutiny of Henley & Partners and its opaque and damaging activities in Malta.”

The plan was then put past the Owen Bonnici and Jonathan Cardona “for their approval” and was also forwarded to the PM and Keith Schembri. The PM replied with “I don’t object” and Keith Schembri said: “Thanks, Chris. This looks good. Very kind regards."

At some point the decision was taken to drop the idea to threaten the media houses and Dr Azzopardi and focus solely on Mrs Caruana Galizia “with a barrage of letters and emails from Mishcon de Reya.”

Mrs Caruana Galizia says the government officials chose to use unofficial email addresses “given that these are the addresses which you use for your illicit and highly unethical negotiations and correspondence with Henley & Partners and others.”

She also commented on the level of familiarity shown by Mr Kalin with regard to the Prime Minister, calling him by his first name, but points out that the emails were addressed to "Keith, Joseph" in that order of precedence.

 She also accused those involved of using their unofficial emails “to keep the exchanges from being part of official government records as they should be.”

The journalist also revealed that she went before Magistrate Aaron Bugeja this morning, who is leading the Egrant Inc/Pilatus Bank inquiry, and informed him that the PM, his chief of staff, the Justice Minister and the chief of Malta's Sale of Citizenship Scheme are all using @josephmuscat.com addresses “for their illicit exchanges concerning Henley & Partners.” This, she said, would indicate that “they are doing the same in their other (nefarious) plots.”

“I also suggested that he should act immediately to gain investigatory access to the josephmuscat.com email server as he will probably find many of the answers he is looking for there.”

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