Don’t you for a minute think that Alfred Sant forgot Ali Sadr’s name on Xarabank last Friday. He used that mock innocent trick throughout the decades of his political career and it’s a confidence trickster’s way of disarming his victims into thinking he must be genuine.

Alfred Sant knows very well who Ali Sadr is. He pretends not to, to create a distance between his government and an indicted bank fraud and sanctions dodger.

It is also intended to trivialise the matter of the close friendship and unjustified defence of a very dangerous man.

The man whose name Alfred Sant pretended to forget holds some four passports, one of which, the one he uses least, is the passport of his country of origin, Iran. When he came to Malta he had zero experience in banking but he had been dodging US sanctions against Iran and running fraud schemes worth hundreds of millions of euro.

In spite of all that he was granted a license to operate a bank in Malta.

The man whose name Alfred Sant pretended to forget was investigated by local anti-money laundering investigators who found grave failures of compliance in his operation. Those investigators were forced to resign or were dismissed and new ones put in their place to issue reports saying everything at Pilatus Bank was a-ok. They too knew Ali Sadr’s name.

Alfred Sant pretended not to know the name of Ali Sadr. But whoever told Ali Sadr to pack his bags in the dead of night after Daphne Caruana Galizia reported his bank held evidence Joseph Muscat received bribes and hid them through an illegal offshore company, and rush through the back door of the bank to load them on a plane heading to Baku, knew his name full well.

Alfred Sant said he did not know Ali Sadr’s name because he thought people would laugh at his endearing inadequacy with Iranian names. But he would rather they laughed at him for that than think of the stunning truth that when American federal agents cuffed him in Virginia they knew his name and said it aloud before they reminded him of his right to remain silent.

Alfred Sant too has the right to remain silent. But he has an election to worry about so he’d rather we all laughed instead.