Guest Post: Simon Busuttil and the Egrant inquiry

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2018-10-11T19:06:15+00:00Thu, 11th Oct '18, 19:06|0 Comments

Sent in by someone known to me:

It is obvious why government members went all out to drown down Simon Busuttil’s telling comments on the Egrant inquiry at Parliament’s sitting on 10 October. He was spot on in saying that the Magistrate’s conclusions in his report did not categorically rule out that Egrant’s owner could ever have been Michelle Muscat or a member of the Muscat family.

Below are the exact words that Muscat was quoted, in the press release issued by the Office of the Prime Minister on 22 July just a couple of days after Muscat was given a copy of the Egrant report, as having stated in his ‘crocodile press conference’ given at the time:-

“In the inquiry, it is also factually concluded that no documented link was established or other testimony found was that links Michelle Muscat with the ownership of the company Egrant Inc.”.

This is a far cry from the Magistrate stating that at no time was Michelle Muscat the ultimate beneficial owner of Egrant. Of course, the Magistrate’s inquiry was hamstrung by the fact that unfortunately, the situation in Panama is such that there is no public record of who is the true owner of a Panamanian registered company. Thus, when seeking information from the Panamian company registry, the Magistrate was going on a wild goose chase.

It is also worth bearing in mind that the terms of reference given to the Magistrate when he began his inquiry in April 2017 were never published but the indications are that these emanated from Muscat himself. Moreover, the Magistrate had made it known publicly that his enquiry was restricted to the alleged ownership of Egrant by Michelle Muscat; not if she ever was the owner of that company!

It will be recalled that Egrant was a shelf company which was bought in 2013 (only days after Muscat became Prime Minister) from Mossack Fonseca Panama, through Nexia BT’s services, along with two other Panamanian companies where ample proof has been available, ever since the Panama Papers revealed this in 2016, that these were owned by Konrad Mizzi and by Keith Schembri.

So one cannot exclude the possibility, as alleged by the whistleblower (who claims to have seen a document to that effect when working at Pilatus Bank), that in 2013 Mossack Fonseca had initially passed on ownership of Egrant to Michelle Muscat. It takes only seconds to make a change in beneficial ownership of a Panamanian company. 

Thus one cannot exclude the possibility of a quick change having been made – again on the instructions of Nexia BT – to switch ownership to Nexia. Indeed, Brian Tonna claimed – much later – that he was Egrant’s beneficial owner. Surprisingly the police never took any action against him; Mizzi nor Schembri for each having a secret Panamanian company.

Also, Mossack Fonseca’s staff have been caught backdating documents and that one their ‘employees’ (Jacqueline Alexander) signed thousands of letters of trust regarding companies registered in Panama. Moreover, it transpired that the very loose arrangements within that company do not exclude the probability that her signature on such documents was signed by other MF employees. So much for the magistrate’s conclusion that the signature on the document seen at Pilatus bank was forged.

In conclusion, one cannot but subscribe to Simon Busuttil’s stand in Parliament that, notwithstanding the published conclusions of Magistrate Bugeja’s inquiry, there are no grounds for removing any suspicion that Michelle Muscat had been, at a moment in time before the Panama papers came to light, the beneficial owner of Egrant.