Keith Schembri’s harsh criticism against a magisterial inquiry which reportedly recommends criminal charges against him was full of the usual political tropes, but there was one name he mentioned which people may be unfamiliar with.
Schembri singled out forensic expert Miroslava Milenovic for criticism, claiming her role in the inquiry has placed the entire inquiry’s findings into question.
However, he forgot to mention that Milenovic had also played a key role in the Egrant magisterial inquiry, which former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat used as proof that the infamous allegation was the “greatest lie in Malta’s political history”.
This is what Schembri had to say about her:
“The magistrate appointed a certain Miroslava Milenovic as an expert, and it seems that she’s very popular with certain individuals very close to the establishment.”
“Miroslava Milenovic is or was the vice president of a Serbian political party called Enough is Enough. I won’t enter into the merits of this party’s values, but I know as a fact that her political affiliation has rendered her position as an expert hugely problematic.”
“Milenovic had no problem politicising the report, by saying that my deal with Times of Malta was a nefarious political scheme, presumably to appease the Labour Party.”
“She included in the inquiry documents that the establishment will certainly use for political attacks. And what is there to say about the inquiry itself and its conclusions?”
“The inquiry didn’t even listen to many of the people it interrogated. It relied solely on the advice of Miroslava Milenovic and another foreign firm that I know barely anything about.”
Schembri is correct about Milenovic’s political history, although to be fair Enough Is Enough is hardly a major player in Serbian politics. The party, led by former Economy Minister Saša Radulović, placed fifth in last year’s parliamentary elections and lost all of its 16 seats.
Milenovic’s alleged links to ‘people close to the establishment’ cannot exactly be verified because Schembri kept the criticism vague, but this was certainly not the first time she was trusted by key Maltese institutions.
A certified fraud examiner and forensic accountant, Milenovic has previously provided training courses on anti-money laundering to officials at the MFSA and the FIAU.
She was also notably entrusted by magistrate (now judge) Aaron Bugeja to assist him into a inquiry to determine whether the Panama company Egrant belonged to former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s wife Michelle Muscat.
Milenovic, along with Irish firm Harbinson Forensics, was tasked with preserving electronic data found at Nexia BT and Pilatus Bank.
Her findings dismissed a claim made by former police inspector Jonathan Ferris that a company owned by Leyla Aliyeva, daughter of Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Alijev, had transferred $600,000 to Buttardi after receiving a $1 million payment from PIlatus.
Buttardi is a former fashion company set up by Michelle Muscat, wife of former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, and Michelle Buttigieg, the Malta Tourism Authority’s representative in New York.
However, Milenovic’s forensic analysis failed to find any evidence of this payment, which Ferris claimed was masked as a loan.
Her finding prompted Bugeja to recommend the police charge Ferris with perjury, which indeed they did last November.
So far, Ferris remains the only person to face court over anything related to Egrant.
Police have also charged former Pilatus Bank employee Maria Efimova with perjury, but she has refused to return to Malta without whistleblower protection and a European arrest warrant has been issued against her.
In August 2018, when Schembri was still OPM chief of staff, the Labour Party’s media house ONE highlighted Milenovic’s work in the Egrant inquiry.
“The inquiry concluded, from the testimony of KPMG, and more importantly from the forensic accountant Miroslava Milenovic, that there was no link [to Buttardi] or payments,” they wrote.
When the Egrant inquiry was concluded, Schembri himself shared a video produced by the government to summarise its findings.
Milenovic’s contribution was recognised through the line: “international IT and forensic experts were engaged to analyse the data”.
However, in Schembri’s eyes, she’s now gone from being an “international forensic expert” to a “Serbian politician with links to the Nationalist establishment” – a clear example of how quickly political narratives can change.