Joseph Muscat denies US blogger’s allegation he helped finance terrorism

Former Malta PM Joseph Muscat denies allegations made by American blogger Kenneth Rijock that he helped finance a terrorist organisation

Former Malta PM Joseph Muscat
Former Malta PM Joseph Muscat

Joseph Muscat has flatly denied accusations of illegalities directed towards him in a financial crime blog run by former money launderer-turned FBI informant Kenneth Rijock.

The former Malta prime minister said he found it “extremely difficult to believe anything” written by Rijock, who earlier on Wednesday claimed Muscat was the subject of a US investigation linking him to the financing of terrorism.

“I totally deny any of the accusation of illegalities directed towards me by this individual who seems to have contacts to usual suspects in Malta… the accusations levelled against me, which now even link me to aiding terrorists, are totally false,” Muscat told MaltaToday.

Rijock claimed on his blog that Muscat was exercising power over Maltese government ministers by bribing them, and that the former PM was being investigated by US and European law enforcement agencies over laundering of criminal proceeds.

Rijock couched his writing by quoting unnamed sources and observers, and citing unconfirmed reports.

The American author, who was once a money launderer for south American drug cartels before being caught and prosecuted by the FBI, implied that during a trip to Miami earlier this year, Muscat had “quietly visited one or more offshore financial centres in the Caribbean, to deposit illicit cash”.

Rijock then claimed that US authorities even had a case on Muscat, concerning an allegation that he provided “material support to a designated terrorist organisation”.

But asked for his reaction to these claims, Muscat did not hold back from questioning the author’s credibility.

“While I do not know who the said gentleman is, one can refer to open source media according to which he has been accused of propagating fake news and also made to apologise for blogs he wrote. I cannot verify whether these reports in his regard are true or not. He is also a ‘self-confessed’, ‘ex-career money launderer’ and his colourful history too seems to be confirmed on open source,” Muscat said.

He insisted that he had not been contacted by any foreign law enforcement agency and was not aware of any such investigation.

“I am not facing any trials, in the US or elsewhere and do not have any attorneys. I also do not have any bank accounts other than the local ones declared in my publicly available declaration of assets,” Muscat said.

Rijock’s blog provides analysis and commentary on money laundering, terrorist financing and financial crime.

His latest blog on Muscat, follows a series of others in which he claimed high-profile Maltese people, some in Cabinet, are the subject of ongoing US financial crime investigations.

In another blog, Rijock said two Maltese Cabinet members were actively cooperating with law enforcement agencies from two foreign countries, seeking a plea deal or immunity from prosecution. He has not named the Cabinet members and all his blogs are based on unnamed sources.

He has even suggested that the US decision to drop a case against Pilatus Bank owner Ali Sadr Hasheminejad for sanction busting despite a clear conviction, may have been linked to some form of plea bargaining which provided the US authorities with damning information on others.

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