frank_psaila
Frank Psaila

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

These are not normal circumstances. The egg has cracked and all the Prime Minister’s horses and men are not able to put it together again

frank_psaila
Frank Psaila
25 April 2017, 7:53am
No matter what actions the Prime Minister takes, no matter what his apologists do, write and say, Malta is awash with claims that Egrant belongs to the Prime Minister’s wife and that large amounts of money were, allegedly, transferred to her bank account by one of the daughters of the Azerbaijani President
No matter what actions the Prime Minister takes, no matter what his apologists do, write and say, Malta is awash with claims that Egrant belongs to the Prime Minister’s wife and that large amounts of money were, allegedly, transferred to her bank account by one of the daughters of the Azerbaijani President
The egg has cracked and all the Prime Minister’s horses and men are not able to put it together again. The Panama Papers scandal came to a head on Thursday evening. Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia stands by her claims that Egrant Inc. belongs to Mrs Michelle Muscat, the Prime Minister’s wife, and that no less than one million dollars have been transferred from a bank account held by one of the daughters’ of the President of Azerbaijan to Muscat’s account held in Dubai. She claims that bank transfers happened through a Ta’ Xbiex-based bank, Pilatus, owned by an Iranian businessman who happens to have four passports issued to him by a country in the Caribbean.

Caruana Galizia claims that a document with Mrs Muscat’s name, linking her to Egrant, was held in a safe box at the Pilatus Bank headquarters at Whitehall Mansions. She assures her readers that a scanned copy of the documents were safely stored in the cloud.  

The Prime Minister calls a press conference, denies the claims and files libel suits against Caruana Galizia. On his part, the Police Commissioner, instead of sending his men and women to raid the Pilatus Bank headquarters to confirm, or otherwise, Caruana Galizia’s claims, whisks off to an Mgarr restaurant to eat rabbit. In the meantime, the Pilatus Bank chairman, is caught by the NET News cameras leaving the bank’s office with a lady employee, holding two bags. 

Three hours later, the Prime Minister speaks on his party TV station and announces that he asked the Police Commissioner to launch a magisterial inquiry. On social media, government apologists struggle to cope with a flood of comments calling for the Prime Minister to step down.

Make no mistake, we have a Constitutional crisis. Government is in chaos. The Prime Minister is under a magisterial inquiry. His wife is at the centre of deadly serious allegations. Huge efforts at fire-fighting are a must, as Caruana Galizia continues to stand by her claims, and then they are not enough.

The Prime Minister’s first reaction was to file a libel suit against the journalist, and all journalists who repeat her claims. That was a weak reaction by the Prime Minister and very un-priministerial. To make matters worse, instead of launching an investigation as soon as the story broke on Caruana Galizia’s blog, the Police Commissioner went to eat rabbit and make merry with his friends, proving, once again what an incompetent Police Commissioner we have. Not only is this man unfit for the job, but, time and again, he proves unable to do the right thing. It took him more than fifteen hours, since the story was published, to raid the Pilatus Bank Ta’ Xbiex offices. 

No matter what actions the Prime Minister takes, no matter what his apologists do, write and say, Malta is awash with claims that Egrant belongs to the Prime Minister’s wife and that large amounts of money were, allegedly, transferred to her bank account by one of the daughters of the Azerbaijani President. People are confused, many shocked, and others feel betrayed. Some are downright angry. Anger, suspicions, confusion and shock does not go away by filing libel suits. They need closure. 

There’s a problem at the heart of all this. Trust in our country’s institutions has been betrayed. Both government and the police force are being increasingly portrayed as morally compromised and amoral; the one is no better or worse than the other.

In such circumstances, government is unable to function; the Prime Minister and his Cabinet of Ministers are unable to focus on their tasks. To make matters worse, Malta is under the spotlight more than ever now that the country holds the Presidency of the European Union. The Prime Minister must put an end to this uncertainty and instability. I believe that sooner rather than later he will. Failure to do so would have devastating effects on the country. 

These are not normal circumstances. The egg has cracked and all the Prime Minister’s horses and men are not able to put it together again. 

frank_psaila
Frank Psaila, a lawyer by profession, anchors Iswed fuq l-Abjad on Net TV. He was formerly...