When Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his wife Michelle heard the rumours that Michelle’s name would emerge as the owner of Egrant, at first they thought it was a joke, Muscat said during his testimony before Magistrate Aaron Bugeja.
Muscat’s testimony, which dates back to 22 April 2017, is part of the 1,500 page Egrant inquiry report, which was published on Tuesday evening by Opposition leader Adrian Delia. Muscat had asked for an inquiry to investigate the allegations that his wife Michelle owns the secret Panama company Egrant.
“In no time or moment, nor myself or my wife, but my wife will speak for herself is well, we never had nor have, anything to do with the company, we have no account, nor anything that is not declared in our deceleration of assets or of my work as Prime Minister and Parliament member,” the PM told the inquiry
Muscat said that he had asked his lawyers to contact the police commissioner and ask him to inform a duty magistrate to investigate allegations to ensure all the facts and truth come out. “This is all fabrication and speculation, the rumours we had been hearing were first initially against me, but then we began to hear through the grapevine that my wife’s name would come out and at first we took this information as a joke to tell you the truth.
“What can I say from the allegations Sir Magistrate? I deny that categorically, my wife nor I have been involved in this company, nor have we any form of trust or documents that mention us, nor myself nor my wife, or any member of the family.” Muscat went on to mention that no family member, his mother, father, grandmother, no one had any relations with Pilatus Bank, or have any account or credit card from the bank.
Muscat said that the story was fabricated and that is a serious case, as someone had rushed the process of getting the documents of the transcript done, such documents which affect his wife and has left a mark on their children seeing their mother so worried.
Muscat was asked whether Michelle Muscat and Michelle Buttigieg ever worked together as claimed by Daphne Caruana Galizia in her article 21 April 2017. In her blog post, Caruana Galizia claimed that Michelle Buttigieg owns a costume jewellery business in partnership with Michelle Muscat, who would sell the jewellery at a number of events. Muscat said that Michelle had done no such work and he did not know about the website. He said that since he has been Prime Minister, she did not do any of these types of activities.
When asked about the relationship he had with the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev and his daughter Leyla Aliyeva, Muscat said that he had met the President twice in Azerbaijan. He said that both were bilateral meetings and that he also met with Ilham in Brussels during a summit. He said that during the meetings in Azerbaijan, which took place in Baku, Muscat said that Alyev was trying to see how to strengthen the relationship between the two countries and that he was interested in investing. This happened after there were shareholders who won the contract of the power station (Socar). That day they shook hands. There was another time when Muscat met with him in Lithuania, when there was another similar meeting.
Regarding his daughter Leyla Aliyeva, Muscat said he never met with her. He said that he did although once meet her mother, but he was not so sure whether he met with her mother or with Leyla herself, as they both look similar. He said that Leyla was in Malta for an organised visit by the President at the time, George Abela. He explained that there was an exhibition represented by Tony Cassar which was held at the Palace and that under the courtesy of Michelle Muscat, she was asked to host a lunch for President Aliyev’s daughter. This was the only time the family encountered with Leyla.
Muscat was asked questions whether him or his family had any relations, such as friendships or commercial relations or any exchange of money or favours, Muscat replied: “I deny categorically that there is any type of relation… I have always done my work without asking for anything or asking anything Sir Magistrate, and that is why I find this inquiry extremely important and that I do not have any type of pressure but I wish to make this point… which you need to realise that my political career is not so long, only 25 years. I have been confronted a number of times with political arguments and political causes … this is the first time such a manufactured lie was made, and I want to tell the truth from the beginning till the end, as this is hurting my wife and my family, and we have lost our serenity. That is why we are here and were offered legal advice, and we are here simple as we want to tell the truth.”
He said that he wants the whole truth to come out, and that he swore on himself and his wife, and he had full belief in his work, and that he wanted to ensure that his political career remained good and serene.
As the case was about to close, Muscat asked to add an extra part to his in testimony
“Yesterday I was questioned and I want to say, so that I am extremely clear, if I knew the owner of Pilatus, I think it is good, that I make it clear that I have nothing to do with the owner, but I need to say that if I have something to say I have no reason to keep being asked, my relationship with the owner of the Pilatus bank, is the same with other owners of many other investments, and if he is in this country I would meet him.”
He continued to explain that he met with the owner of Pilatus Bank six times for a number of social activities. He also said that he and Michelle had been invited to his wedding in Florence. He said that when he was asked about his relations with Mrs Alyeva, he said that there was no commercial relations, bank or account relations.