Updated | Simon Busuttil testifies in third inquiry, insists 'bribery only plausible reason'

Simon Busuttil confident that magistrates will find ground for prosecution: 'That is the conclusion that all the magistrates are expected to reach. I expect that in the three investigations, the three magistrates will do so'

PN leader Simon Busuttil is testifying in fromt of Magistrate Josette Demicoli
PN leader Simon Busuttil is testifying in fromt of Magistrate Josette Demicoli

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil spent around 90 minutes testifying before Magistrate Josette Demicoli this afternoon in the inquiry into allegations of kickbacks paid to Adrian Hillman.

The evidence concerns accusations raised last week by Busuttil, who claimed that Schembri paid €650,000 to the former Allied Group managing director Adrian Hillman through an offshore company between 2011 and 2015, in what Busuttil said was a “textbook case of money laundering”.

Busuttil told reporters that the evidence he presented the court with today, showed that “bribery” was the only plausible reason for monies paid to Hillman and that the funds had started to be laundered.

“[Today] I also saw the documents that I had originally presented to Magistrate Bugeja. I opened them to see ensure that they were still full – I assure you that they are still full,” quipped Busuttil, referring to allegations that he had presented empty box files to the magistrate.

Next Saturday the electorate will be voting in exceptional circumstances, he said.

Busuttil said he was “confident that the magistrate will reach a conclusion at face value – not a verdict of guilty or not guilty, but whether at face value, these people should be prosecuted.”

“That is the conclusion that all the magistrates are expected to reach. I expect that in the three investigations, the three magistrates will do so.”

On the latest allegations that kickbacks were paid on the LNG tanker, Busuttil said that the editor of the Malta Independent asked to testify.

“This indicates to me that he has a copy of the FIAU report,” Busuttil told reporters, adding that this could lead to another investigation, this time including Konrad Mizzi.

“Imagine the situation of going to the polls on Saturday with the three corrupt men of Castille under criminal investigation.”

The opposition leader insisted that there “definitely” is a coverup.

“The Prime Minister is lying even in the face of evidence. This should lead us to reflect: when the PM says 'I will resign if there is evidence against me' you [Muscat] didn't resign when we presented you with this evidence. Rest assured that he will deny everything.  We have a situation where the Prime Minister is denying known truths.”

Muscat has been challenging Busuttil to resign if the inquiry finds that the Egrant allegation was a fabrication.

Busuttil however hit back at the Prime Minister, saying that he was “in no position to be asking for anyone's resignation, because the Prime Minister should have resigned himself a long time ago.”

If elected on Saturday, Busuttil said he vowed to see that a new commissioner of police is appointed and all the cases of alleged corruption be investigated. “I am determined to see that justice is served. That is the feeling I get from the public, they want justice.”

He denied counter-allegations that he had, in the past, pocketed commissions on oil trading, saying it was a “lie from start to finish.” “The Prime Minister thinks everyone is like his chief of staff.”

The case refers to a €5 million out-of-court settlement which the Gonzi Cabinet paid to oil company Shell. Busuttil was the company’s lawyer and the agreement was reached a few weeks after he had become deputy leader.

The Commissioner's inaction in the face of the Leader of the Opposition as well as the independent news media giving him evidence, shows the state in which country found itself.  “This is not just a case of three corrupt people in Castille, it is bigger than that. It is a question of these three seizing control of the institutions in such a way that they are now paralyzed.”

The gravity of the situation was underlined, Busuttil said, by the filing of criminal complaints to prosecute whoever leaked the report from the FIAU, last week.

Extracts of FIAU reports have been linked to the Nationalist opposition, prompting the FIAU to file a criminal complaint. Another leak took place on Friday, forcing the FIAU to issue a statement denying that the allegations reported “resulted from the findings” and that the investigation had not yet been concluded.

“I ask the people listening. Are you comfortable living in this state? Even if you are doing well under Joseph Muscat, are you comfortable living in a country where criminals are protected instead of victims? Where steps are taken against you for revealing something instead of against the persons who you have uncovered?”

Busuttil was incredulous when told that Muscat had accused him of publishing selective parts of the FIAU reports. “It is an absolute lie. Did he really say this? If I published the entire FIAU report, how can he say I published selective parts? Please stop believing Joseph Muscat, because at every turn he is unabashedly lying. I went on Xarabank and published three reports from the FIAU from beginning to end, how can he say I was selective in what I published?”