Prime Minister Robert Abela has become entangled in the web surrounding an alleged FBI investigation into money laundering and illicit activities in the highest level of government, fresh reports from financial blogger Kenneth Rijock claim.
According to Rijock, Abela has been implicated in the case by three individuals in the Maltese government who are allegedly cooperating with police.
Abela will reportedly face pressure from US authorities to grant Maria Efimova, the former Pilatus Bank staff member, whistleblower status in the country, ensure her personal safety in Malta, and remove any outstanding warrants for her arrest.
Efimova is the infamous whistleblower from the Egrant saga. A magisterial inquiry seemingly dismissed her claims. However, Malta’s attempts to extradite her from Greece have failed to materialise.
Abela and his communications team have refused to reply to questions sent.
The reports come just as the US’ Secretary for Defence Mark Esper visits Malta for crucial discussions on a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) on the islands.
Malta has for decades resisted the US’ lobbying to reach a deal on SOFA. However, this all changed in recent works, with sources suggesting that Malta potentially failing a second Moneyval test and effectively-becoming blacklisting could be behind the change in heart.
Rijock dismissed suggestions that the agreement was being put forward in exchange for not prosecuting former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in the US.
Rijock, a financial blogger and former-money-launderer-turned-FBI informant, says FBI agents have been on the ground in Malta for weeks, that the US is seeking to extradite Muscat over a host of charges, including Providing Material Support to a Designated Terrorist Organisation.
Rijock also claimed Muscat is exercising power over the current Cabinet by handing them proceeds of corruption, often in cash, and that Muscat used a trip to Miami, where Rijock himself is based, to head off to a Caribbean country to deposit illicit cash.
Last week, Rijock also alleged that the Unita di Informazione Finanziaria per l’Italia probe involves financial transactions conducted in Italy that are linked to Muscat. Muscat has vociferously denied all claims.
The US Embassy of Malta has refused to comment, telling Lovin Malta the FBI maintains a standard of practice of neither confirming nor denying any investigation.
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