It’s been exactly a year since Malta was rocked by the publication of the conclusions of a magisterial inquiry into the mysterious Panama company Egrant.
Not only did Aaron Bugeja’s inquiry dismiss claims, originally published by the late Daphne Caruana Galizia, that the Prime Minister’s wife owns an offshore company, but it found evidence of forged signatures in a document presented to the magistrate.
While the entire report, which is still unpublished, is in the hands of the police, it is as yet unknown whether any sort of criminal action will be pursued. Indeed, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat himself vented his frustration at the lack of action a few months ago, telling a campaign rally that he is waiting for justice to be served, but that he doesn’t want to pressure the investigators.
Who could the police be suspecting of criminal activity though?
1. Karl Cini
Nexia BT partner Karl Cini is one of only two people whose police interrogation in connection with the Egrant inquiry has been made public. Cini was the man who had liaised with now-defunct Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to open Egrant, as well as the two Panamanian companies owned by Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri.
If anyone knows why exactly Egrant was set up, and who it was intended for, it’s him.
2. Jonathan Ferris
The other person who was certainly interrogated is Jonathan Ferris, a former police inspector, and later Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) investigator, himself. According to The Times of Malta, Ferrris was likely questioned about alleged perjury.
Ferris originally claimed he was removed from the FIAU during his probationary period because he wanted to investigate Egrant. However, he later backtracked from this claim, while maintaining that his dismissal was political.
After the Egrant inquiry was concluded, MaltaToday reported that Ferris had told magistrate Aaron Bugeja that Egrant could have served as a slush fund for the Labour Party. According to the report, Ferris told Bugeja that former EU Commissioner John Dalli had suggested to him during an unrelated interrogation that Egrant was actually Labour’s.
Dalli has denied telling Ferris this, while Ferris has said he cannot recall it.
3. Maria Efimova
Former Pilatus Bank employee Maria Efimova was Caruana Galizia’s main source behind the Egrant story, but Aaron Bugeja ruled in his inquiry conclusions that there were major contradictions between their testimonies. While Caruana Galizia told the magistrate that Efimova had copies of declarations of trust linking Egrant to Michelle Muscat, Efimova told him that it was Caruana Galizia who had showed these documents to her.
The Malta Independent reported last year that the police plan to prosecute Efimova for perjury and slander but nothing ever came of this.
Efimova is currently living in Greece, where the courts have so far turned down a European Arrest Warrant for her issued by the Maltese police. This EAW was unrelated to Egrant but concerned allegations that Efimova had misappropriated €2,000 from Pilatus Bank and that she had made false accusations against three police officers, including Jonathan Ferris, who had interrogated her over the bank’s accusations.
4. Pierre Portelli
Shortly after the 2017 general election, Pierre Portelli – then editor-in-chief of the Malta Independent – handed over to Aaron Bugeja alleged declarations of trust which linked Egrant to Michelle Muscat.
It is unknown how these documents fell into Portelli’s lap, with the former editor resisting all pressures to expose his source. However, he has confirmed that his source was neither Efimova, Ferris or Caruana Galizia, which would indicate that the list of players in the Egrant story is larger than it seems.
Quoting police sources, MaltaToday reported that it was unlikely Portelli would face criminal action.
5. Simon Busuttil
Former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil had pounced on the Egrant story in 2017, calling a national protest and demanding the resignation of Joseph Muscat.
Busuttil has insisted it was his duty to draw attention to serious allegations that were already in the public domain. However, Joseph Muscat has claimed that the Egrant story was a coordinated plot that Busuttil was personally involved in.
Muscat said that Busuttil had told a number of people that he had documents in hand to prove Egrant belongs to his wife.
“Some of these people were Nationalists, but they told me about this themselves because they considered his comments extremely dangerous,” Muscat said in an interview last year.
However, it will take far more than just suggestions for police to prosecute Busuttil, and indeed MaltaToday has reported that it is unlikely any criminal action will be taken against the former PN leader.