Prime Minister Joseph Muscat sheds a tear as the Egrant inquiry clears him of wrongdoing
A week after the damning revelation that 17 Black belongs to Tumas Group CEO Yorgen Fenech and the main line of ‘defence’ is clear. Why should we believe this story when the famous Egrant was rubbished so blatantly by a magisterial inquiry? Once bitten, twice shy after all, right?
However, while this sentiment is understandable, invoking Egrant is a logically flawed argument.
Hark back to when Daphne Caruana Galizia claimed the Panama company Egrant belongs to the wife of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Right out of the gate, Muscat denounced the story as “the biggest lie in Malta’s political history”, requested a magisterial inquiry and pledged to resign if the inquiry found a shred of proof to back up the claims. With no documented proof published, the nation was faced with a stark choice – to believe Muscat or to believe Caruana Galizia and the Nationalist Party.
The scenario is completely different with regards 17 Black as there are two documents to back up this story. An email by Nexia BT to Mossack Fonseca listed 17 Black as one of two Dubai companies that were going to transfer €150,000 a month to the secret Panama companies of the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri and Minister Konrad Mizzi.
This email was published seven months ago by none other than the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the German newspaper which broke the Panama Papers in 2016 after receiving a tranche of some 11.5 million Mossack Fonseca documents from a whistleblower. Nexia BT has not contested the veracity of this email, while Mizzi has not sued Nexia BT, despite the email sharply contradicting his version of events that he set up his Panama company solely for family planning purposes.
Secondly, a report by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU), which has been passed on to the police for investigation lists 17 Black as belonging to Yurgen Fenech, one of the key players behind the LNG power station. The FIAU’s powers are similar to those of the Malta Security Services and include secretly delving into people’s bank accounts and analysing their transactions to flag any potential money laundering. This FIAU report was backed up by sources in Dubai, where 17 Black held a bank account, who spoke to Reuters, one of the largest media organisations in the world.
Unlike Egrant, no one has actually rubbished these reports. Of course, doing so would mean casting doubt on one of the most powerful Maltese authorities (the FIAU), Nexia BT, Reuters or the Süddeutsche Zeitung. There’s really no two ways about it.
In fact, while the Prime Minister was all too willing to stake his political career on Egrant, he has not responded to our question as to whether he will do the same with regards 17 Black.
The fact that a week has passed and no one has been willing to put their money where their mouth is and contradict the documentation is a warning sign if there ever was one. The writing is well and truly on the wall.