Update: We’ve added a poll at the end of this page. Have your say.
Blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia yesterday claimed the Prime Minister’s wife Michelle Muscat is the owner of Egrant Inc, a company set up in Panama alongside the ones set up for Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri. The Prime Minister and his wife have strenuously denied the allegations. A magisterial inquiry is now underway. This is a live feed of updates from throughout the day.
If you are just catching up this morning, you might want to catch up with some of these stories from yesterday:
UPDATE 11:00pm – Brian Tonna releases statement insisting Egrant had just one shareholder from July 2013 onwards
Brian Tonna issued a statement tonight insisting that he was the sole beneficial owner of Egrant Inc. Tonna gave a blow by blow account of what he says happened. He also published the following appendices to his statement: Declaration of Trust, board minutes, Power of Attorney, and share certificate.
Read Brian Tonna’s full statement here.
UPDATE 5:15pm – Muscat and Busuttil hold press conferences, DCG responds via blog posts
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat reiterated his position on the allegations of his wife’s connection with Egrant Inc. in questions following a press conference this morning, insisting that documents have been fabricated. Daphne Caruana Galizia has responded to Muscat’s statement and arguments in last night’s debate via five separate blog posts. Leader of Opposition Simon Busuttil also held a press conference calling for Muscat to resign, and outlining what he referred to as “five lies” from the Prime Minister over the past 24 hours.
UPDATE 11:00pm – Muscat and Busuttil fight it out on Xarabank
Muscat and Busuttil go head to head on Xarabank, with Muscat pushing Busuttil to prove his claims. Muscat dismissed the text of documents published by Caruana Galizia, saying they were fabricated.
UPDATE 8:10pm – #DaphneLeaks strikes again with ‘text’ of the two declarations of trust which she says were in the kitchen-safe at Pilatus Bank.
Mentioned in the declaration is Jaqueline Alexander, a Mossack Fonseca employee who serves as a director of over 7,200 companies, according to this report by Malta Independent.
UPDATE 7:35pm – Muscat says he won’t prepare for debate, swears to God that he’s being honest
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this evening addressed a Labour Party general conference in which he said he told his aides he would not prepare for tonight’s debate since he was just going there to speak about the truth. He swore on God that he was telling the truth and thanked his supporters for showing their faith in him.
UPDATE 7:00pm – Konrad Mizzi takes action against journalist’s aggressor
Minister Konrad Mizzi has asked the Water Services Corporation to take action against the employee who assaulted a journalist from Times of Malta Jacob Borg this afternoon. Mizzi also praised his own staff for pushing the man away from the journalist.
UPDATE 5:10pm – Times of Malta journalist gets shoved when questioning Minister Konrad Mizzi
Times of Malta journalist Jacob Borg was pushed on camera by officials accompanying Minister Konrad Mizzi when he was questioning him about his companies in Panama.
Meanwhile, Mizzi has denied any relation with Pilatus Bank. “I have no relation with Pilatus Bank, I never met up with them, and I never visited their offices,” he was reported as saying.
UPDATE 5:00pm – Michelle Muscat questioned on relations with Leyla Aliyeva
Net News journalist Mario Frendo has door-stepped the Prime Minister’s wife Michelle Muscat this afternoon to ask her about her relationship with Azeri President’s daughter Leyla Aliyeva.
Muscat, who was accompanied by the Prime Minister’s spokesman Kurt Farrugia, told the reporter: “Keep lying, we have nothing to add from what we said yesterday. We continue working with serenity.”
UPDATE 1:52pm – Egrant story goes international
Politico.eu has reported on the political crisis affecting Malta:
“Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has called for an investigation into allegations that his wife received $1 million from the daughter of Azerbaijan’s president through a company set up by Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers scandal.”
UPDATE 1:32pm – PN deputy leader Mario de Marco urges institutions to ‘do their duty’
Speaking live during on an all-day special of Net News, Mario de Marco said Malta’s reputation was at risk due to this scandal which now implicated the highest echelons of government.
He urged the police, the courts, the MFSA and the FIAU, to show their “teeth” and “do their duty”.
De Marco has in the past months faced harsh criticism by Caruana Galizia.
UPDATE: 12:05pm – Opposition leader Simon Busuttil accepts Xarabank debate
Simon Busuttil said he had no problem sharing his airtime with the Prime Minister in a live debate on Xarabank after three years of Joseph Muscat refusing to hold a live debate.
UPDATE 11.20am – Prime Minister Joseph Muscat challenges Opposition leader to Xarabank debate
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has challenged Opposition leader Simon Busuttil to a live debate on national TV programme Xarabank*.
Muscat began by thanking those who expressed support and claimed even Nationalist MPs were disassociating themselves from the PN leadership’s decisions on this case.
“Yesterday was the day of allegations, today is the day of proof,” he said, adding that libel cases were being filed as he spoke. He urged the Opposition leader to publish any documents he has to prove the allegations that have already been denied by the people involved and the bank itself.
He appealed for calm and said the PN was trying to save its skin because it was so divided and had no other option but to resort to lies and frame-ups, putting Malta’s financial services in jeopardy.
*Busuttil was scheduled to be on the programme tonight anyway.
UPDATE 10:39am – Pilatus Bank denies all allegations
Pilatus Bank bank has denied Caruana Galizia’s stories on five key aspects:
1. None of the companies carrying the names Hearnville, Tillgate and Egrant hold or ever held any accounts in our bank. The Bank has not had any dealings with any of these companies.
2. No payment transfers from or to accounts held in our Bank, were ever made to or from any accounts registered in the name of these three companies with any other bank.
3. The Bank does not hold and never held any document belonging or pertaining to, for the benefit of, and / or signed by Dr Joseph Muscat and / or Mrs Michelle Muscat and / or members of his family.
4. No member of the Muscat family is or was ever a client of our Bank.
5.No transfer was ever made from or to any bank account held in the name of Mrs Michelle Buttigieg and/or members of her family.
UPDATE 10:25am – Simon Busuttil announces political demonstration and calls for Prime Minister to resign
Speaking on live TV, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil called this a “political and constitutional crisis” and slammed the institutions for being controlled and paralysed by the Prime Minister. He said what happened yesterday had never been seen before. Busuttil also repeated all the allegations made by Caruana Galizia.
Busuttil pointed out that the Prime Minister only called a magisterial inquiry after documents were removed from Pilatus Bank.
The PN leader said the Prime Minister was under magisterial inquiry and should have therefore resigned. He appealed for Labour MPs to remove the Prime Minister themselves.
“Our country cannot have a Prime Minister under a cloud of corruption and a magisterial inquiry,” he said.
Busuttil has also called a political demonstration on Sunday at noon in Valletta.
UPDATE 10am – Private jets, police raids and evidence
As Malta wakes up from a long night of major allegations involving the Prime Minister’s family, some new information has emerged.
Net News reports that a private jet left Malta for Azerbaijan yesterday after 3am. MaltaToday spoke to James Leviton, on behalf of Vistajet’s PR firm Finsbury, who confirmed the flight to Baku, but said there was no one aboard. “I can confirm that there was a flight to Azerbaijan but it had no passengers or cargo. It was purely a ferry flight,” he said.
Meanwhile, the police have now descended on Pilatus Bank, which is at the centre of Caruana Galizia’s allegations. The owner of Pilatus Bank was filmed yesterday leaving the premises with at least three suitcases. The website of the Pilatus Bank went offline yesterday but has now been reuploaded.
Net News also reports that Nexia BT employees have been told not to go to work. Nexia BT is the financial services company that set up the Panama companies Egrant, Tillgate and Hearnville.
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil is expected to give a press conference this morning.
Meanwhile, Caruana Galizia is refusing to pass on any of her evidence to the police.