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[WATCH] Busuttil: ‘Egrant inquiry will not be published before election’

PN leader Simon Busuttil cites magisterial decree as saying that Egrant inquiry is proving complex and is extremely unlikely to be completed before election

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
23 May 2017, 6:40pm
Last updated on 23 May 2017, 8:38pm
PN leader Simon Busuttil reads out from a magisterial decree at a political activity in Paola
PN leader Simon Busuttil reads out from a magisterial decree at a political activity in Paola
 

The magisterial inquiry into allegations that the Prime Minister’s wife owns the secret Panama company Egrant will not be published before the election, PN leader Simon Busuttil said.

Reading out a decree by magistrate Aaron Bugeja at a political activity in Paola, Busuttil said that the inquiry has proven to an incredibly complex one that will require the aid of experts – including foreign ones – both on a local and international level.

“The magistrate said that he understands the importance of closing the inquiry as quickly as possible, considering it is of a delicate nature and of national importance,” he said. “He and the police officers aiding him in his investigations have been working around the clock since 20 April, including Sundays and public holidays. However, the inquiry is so complex that it requires several processes, examinations and data analyses that by their nature take up a considerable amount of time and signficant costs.

“The decree shows how seriously the magistrate is conducting the investigation and how committed he is for it to be published as soon as possible,” he said. “However, he cannot take shortcuts and doesn’t intend to.”

Busuttil said that the magistrate’s decree means that the public will take to the polls on 3 June with the Prime Minister still under a criminal investigation, a situation he described as unprecedented in Maltese history.

“This means that the world will be looking at us even more so on 3 June, to find out whether we will choose a Prime Minister who is under criminal investigation or a Prime Minister who wants to clean the country’s political system once and for all and to turn this black page that Joseph Muscat has written in Malta’s history??

In his decree, Aaron Bugeja also told Busuttil that the evidence he had presented to him on alleged kickbacks by the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri has been forwarded to a new magistrate.

The evidence concerns accusations by Busuttil that Schembri had paid €650,000 to former Allied Group managing director Adrian Hillman through an offshore company between 2011 and 2015, which Busuttil claims is a “textbook case of money laundering”.

In his political activity, Busuttil said that this means that there are now three criminal investigations ongoing against Muscat and his chief of staff – referring to the Egrant inquiry and a third inquiry into allegations that Schembri had received kickbacks from the sale of citizenship scheme through the offices of Nexia BT managing partner Brian Tonna.

“Just look at the situation we are in thanks to this corrupt clique,” he said. “The magistrate’s decisions confirms that when I say I have proof in my hands I truly mean it, and it also continues to render Muscat’s position untenable. He has lost all moral authority to lead the country, and I once again urge him to resign from politics once and for all.”

PN MP Jason Azzopardi addresses the crowd
PN MP Jason Azzopardi addresses the crowd
PN MEP Therese Comodini Cachia addresses a political activity in Paola
PN MEP Therese Comodini Cachia addresses a political activity in Paola
Inheritance tax removal will cost €17 million

In his speech, Busuttil also spoke of the PN’s recently launched proposals in the health and property sectors. In particular, he highlighted its pledge to abolish inheritance tax upon the transfer of property from one generation to another, currently set at 5% of the declared property value.

He said that the proposal is estimated to cost around €17 million, but that it will be money well-spent.

“I consider inheritance tax to be an injustice. After working hard your whole life to buy a property, it it not fair that your children receive a tax bill for it as soon as you die,” he said.