Egrant Inc’s shares belong to the Prime Minister’s wife Michelle Muscat, blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia has alleged tonight after days of building hype and speculation, amid calls by the PN live on Net TV calling for an immediate police arrest and raid on Pilatus Bank.
But Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has just finished a press conference at Castille where he denied the allegations once more and called on any evidence to be immediately presented and verified. He said this was “the biggest lie in Maltese political history” and him and his wife would be seeking advice on legal action, including libel.
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said the least thing Muscat should have done was call an immediate independent investigation. He said the country had never seen such allegations of criminal behaviour at Castille. He said the police commissioner should have taken immediate action to protect the evidence at Pilatus Bank and he would hold him personally responsible for failing to do so.
Caruana Galizia made fresh claims this evening regarding the company Egrant Inc after saying several days ago she knows who the Panama company belonged to. Her big reveal is expected between tonight and tomorrow.
But tonight’s claims have already been rebutted by central protagonists OPM Chief Of Staff Keith Schembri, Nexia BT owner and Minister Konrad Mizzi – who continue to deny that any of the three revealed Panama companies ever held bank accounts, in Malta or anywhere else.
This is a summary of what Caruana Galizia alleged in her blog this afternoon:
1. Egrant received a payment of more than €1 million in March 2016 as well as other payments of €100,000 each twice a week over several weeks between January and March 2016.
2. The payments were made by Al Sahra FZCO, a company in Dubai and the transaction was described as a “loan payment”.
3. The money was received in a bank account in Dubai held by Egrant.
4. The ultimate beneficial owner of the Al Sahra FZCO is listed in a bank account opening form as being Leyla Aliyeva, the daughter of Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan.
5. The money was sent from Al Sahra’s bank account in Malta, at Pilatus Bank. Egrant also has a bank account in Malta, held by Pilatus Bank. But payment was moved via Dubai instead.
6. Tillgate and Hearnville also have bank accounts at Pilatus Bank in Malta. They too have bank accounts in Dubai.
Meanwhile, Nexia BT owner Brian Tonna, who months ago claimed ownership of Egrant, just released this statement:
I refer to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s blog post concerning payments allegedly made to Egrant Inc.
I hereby declare that:
1. Egrant Inc – which, as I have already stated publicly, was a (shelf) company which I owned throughout its existence – never had a bank account, in Dubai or elsewhere. The company is now dissolved.
2. Egrant Inc never received any payment whatsoever from Al Sahra FZCO, whether as a loan payment or otherwise. In fact, and again as I have already stated publicly, Egrant Inc never traded and never had or tried to open any bank accounts, from which it follows that it never made or received any payments at all.
3. Nexia BT was not engaged by Egrant Inc, or indeed anybody else, in connection with the payments alleged to have been made, and never contacted Pilatus Bank, or indeed any bank, in that regard.
I once again reserve my rights.
Keith Schembri has also issued a statement on Facebook:
Never heard of Egrant? Here’s the backstory: