This analytical series is by Godfrey Leone Ganado:
I am analysing the 50-page conclusions out of a 1,500-page report. I am doing so without the benefit of the publication of the full report. That remains by design the exclusive privilege of the Prime Minister, to enable him to state and twist whatever he wanted without giving the public the benefit to challenge the detailed contents. In any case, the contents were drawn up with terms of reference written by himself and made very restrictive to ensure that the allegations made by the leading investigative journalist are found to hold no grounds.
I must also factor in the fact that the person making the allegations was denied the opportunity of defending her allegations, as she was heinously assassinated in a car bomb five months before the report of this prolonged inquiry was published.
Terms of Reference
The Commissioner of Police received a report from the lawyers representing the Prime Minister, in which they asked him to investigate the allegations which the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia made in her news blog in an article titled “Declarations of trust in Pilatus Bank safe: Egrant Inc shares held for Michelle Muscat”.
F’dan l-imsemmi artikolu, qed jiġi allegat illi s-Sinjura Michelle Muscat hija l-Ultimate Beneficial Owner ta’ Egrant Inc; u li l-Prim Ministru jew membri tal-familja tiegħu jew Politically-Exposed Persons oħra (u ċioe’ John Dalli, Keith Schembri u Konrad Mizzi) setgħu kienu involuti f’xi forma ta’ korruzjoni, u/jew ħasil ta’ flus, u/jew transazjonijiet finanzjarji suspetti, provenjenti minn kontijiet ta’ Politically Exposed Persons mill-Ażerbaijan, u dan tramite kontijiet fil-Pilatus Bank.
Illi dawn l-allegazzjonijiet serji jimminaw kemm l-amministrazzjoni tal-pajjiż, kif wkoll l-industrija finanzjarja ta’ Malta;
Illi f’dan l-istadju l-Pulizija qiegħda titlob lill-Maġistrat Inkwerenti sabiex tiftaħ inkjesta ħalli dawn l-allegazzjonijiet jiġu investigati, u sabiex jiġu ippriservati d-dokumenti kollha relativi ma’ din l-investigazzjoni.
It is important to highlight that the Article is the basis of this inquiry and, it was fully reproduced as part of the report.
I intend to comment on each conclusion with the background of her article titled: ‘Declarations of trust in Pilatus Bank safe: Egrant Inc shares held for Michelle Muscat’.
It is ironic that Daphne Caruana Galizia is referred to as ‘the journalist’ by the lawyer representing Joseph Muscat, when this same lawyer, had used the argument that ‘Daphne was not a journalist’ in a libel case against her in court.
The first restriction used by Joseph Muscat in setting the terms of reference on the ownership of Egrant is in narrowing down the inquiry to corruption and/or money laundering transactions and/or suspect financial transactions arising through accounts held by Politically Exposed Persons from Azerbaijan and through bank accounts held at Pilatus Bank.
The limitation here is ‘through accounts held by Politically Exposed Persons FROM AZERBAIJAN, and through bank accounts held at PILATUS BANK’.
This restriction immediately excludes transactions falling under the following categories:
- Accounts held by Politically Exposed Persons from Malta, like Joseph Muscat, Michelle Muscat Tanti, Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi, Egrant, Hearnville, Tillgate, Colson Services (Keith Schembri), Malmos (Keith Schembri), Michelle Buttigieg (Buttardi) and others who do not hold a bank account at Pilatus Bank.
- Accounts held by Maltese persons who do not fall under the definition of Politically Exposed Persons, like Adrian Hillman, Brian Tonna, Karl Cini, Selson Services (Malcolm Scerri, Keith Schembri’s business partner), Willerby (Brian Tonna), Lester Holdings Group (Adrian Hillman), MFSP Financial Management Limited, Matthew Pace (Executive Director of MFSP) and others who do not hold a bank account at Pilatus Bank.
- Accounts held by persons from Azerbaijan who do not fall under the definition of Politically Exposed Persons, but who may have an account at Pilatus Bank or transacted business from other banks in Malta like Sparkasse Bank, HSBC, BOV, or overseas like Dubai, Panama, Gibraltar, British Virgin Islands, Venezuela etc. to accounts held at Pilatus Bank or other banks in Malta or Overseas.
- Accounts held by companies like 17 Black which is registered in Dubai and whose ultimate beneficial owners are undisclosed and therefore cannot be classified as politically exposed or otherwise.
- Accounts held by Politically Exposed Persons from Azerbaijan who did not carry out transactions through Pilatus Bank.
I suggest that to understand why all the above categories have been excluded, you refer to my article in Manuel Delia’s blog on 10th August, titled ‘The investment adventures of Keith Schembri and Aaron Bugeja’s conclusions’. This article highlights that in the FIAU report on Keith Schembri/Adrian Hillman, most of the transactions having a potential element of money laundering were carried out outside the Pilatus Bank ambit and therefore without the possibility of having recorded data conveniently distorted.