Joseph Muscat deserves a top post in the EU and “the Egrant lie” was invented specifically to ruin his chances, according to the Prime Minister’s former special envoy to the EU.
Cyrus Engerer, now an MEP candidate for Labour, also said Egrant robbed several Maltese people of opportunities within EU institutions.
“Remember that when all of this came out, we were leading the Council of the European Union. Whoever thought of this knew the Prime Minister was on a high,” Engerer told Lovin Malta in a wide-ranging interview.
He said EU leaders were eyeing Muscat for a top European post because of his ability to find agreeable solutions whenever the European Council was divided between two or three factions.
“Unfortunately because of the lie that was going around and repeated all the time in Parliament… we ended up having a number of Maltese people who would have had opportunities with institutions finding closed doors and that’s a real pity,” he said, referring to some 250 Maltese people working on the presidency at the time.
Engerer also accused former PN leader Simon Busuttil of being part of a plan by a group of people who wanted to remove Muscat from government “at all costs”.
“I think at some point Simon Busuttil realised that whatever he thought, was not the case,” he said, questioning how Busuttil could have rested on one source who was not credible.
“I think at some point Simon Busuttil realised that whatever he thought, was not the case.”
Engerer also urged the public not to jump to conclusions when it comes to the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, who were both found to have set up secret companies in Panama shortly after Labour’s election in 2013.
“Even the Prime Minister was disappointed at that. He made it quite clear when he spoke about this. That said, let’s not say there was corruption because so far there is no proof or at least nothing has been proven that Keith Schembri or Konrad Mizzi are corrupt. I think they’re doing a very good job,” he said.
“So far there is no proof or at least nothing has been proven that Keith Schembri or Konrad Mizzi are corrupt.”
Engerer refused to say whether he was supporting Ian Borg’s potential bid for Labour leadership, sticking instead to the line that he was working hard to convince Muscat to stay.
“I think all of Malta would be happy if Joseph Muscat says on as Prime Minister. And I’ll work hard for him to remain there.”
Asked about rising concerns about corruption and money laundering, Engerer stressed that Malta was a small country that was prone to being “attacked” by its competitors.
He dismissed concerns that as an island known for poor enforcement we were taking on too much in the form of Blockchain regulation.
“We need to make sure our laws are strengthened and our institutions are strengthened to make sure that no abuse happens. But at the end of the day let’s not think that we would be moving forward if we do not take opportunities. All opportunities out there are important for us to take,” he said.
Engerer stepped down from his post as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to the EU last May, citing personal projects he wanted to pursue. He later announced he would be running for MEP in next year’s election.
Engerer had already been a Labour candidate in the 2014 EP elections but bowed out of the race after he was handed down a two-year suspended jail term for distributing pornography intended to vilify his ex-boyfriend.