Muscat hits out at ‘weird conspiracies’ of Rijock, crime blogger taking aim at former PM

Former Malta PM hits out at US blogger Kenneth Rijock, former money launderer turned crime consultant, and claims that he is under investigation by Italians

File photo of former PM Joseph Muscat exiting the police headquarters earlier in September 2020
File photo of former PM Joseph Muscat exiting the police headquarters earlier in September 2020

The former Malta prime minister Joseph Muscat has accused a former money launderer turned financial crime consultant, of concocting “weird conspiracies” about him in his US-based blog.

Earlier in the week, Kenneth Rijock claimed Muscat was being probed by the Italian financial analysis unit, the latest in a series of claims about the former PM who was forced to resign in December 2019 after his chief of staff Keith Schembri was implicated in the assassination of the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

“Even in concocting his weird conspiracies, he fails even to get his basics right. He grandly claims that the Unità di Informazione Finanziaria per l’ Italia (UIF) opened a ‘criminal probe’ on my ‘financial transactions’ in Italy, of which I have none. He even claims he was given permission to divulge the information. But that is besides the point.

“In the desktop research he used to make up all this, for reasons we might come to understand later on, he fails to grasp one basic fact. The UIF is an administrative unit within the Banca d’Italia, the Italian Central Bank. Some knowledge of the Italian system, compounded with basic research by anyone who can read Italian, will show that the UIF does not carry out such investigations, but are carried out by other different entities.”

Muscat said that nobody claiming to be an expert would have suffered such an error, especially after claiming that he had been given the information from the same authority.

“To make it clear: this convicted felon and fraudster claims that an authority told him it is doing something that the same authority does not do. This further confirms that this person is a not-so-good con artist who can only find fertile ground with the gullible,” Muscat said of Rijock, who was jailed for racketeering in 1990.

Muscat, who last week had already denied claims by Rijock, said the media should independently verify such claims “before rushing to reproduce such hogwash by a convicted fraudster…  which now even include my aiding of terrorists.”

Muscat, writing on Facebook, once again made reference to the Egrant inquiry which had established that no proof existed that his wife had been the owner of a secret Panamanian company set up by auditor Brian Tonna, the Mossack Fonseca agent in Malta, when opening similar companies for Schembri and former minister Konrad Mizzi. Today it is known that Schembri’s Panama companies were connected to 17 Black, the offshore company in Dubai owned by Yorgen Fenech, the alleged mastermind in the Caruana Galizia assassination.

“My family and I were at least once subjected to the inventions of another con artist who has to date gone scot free despite everything,” he said in a reference to Egrant whistleblower Maria Efimova. “The facts showed that she forged documents and signatures, while those aiding her are still hiding behind the intricacies of legal ‘professional secret’. I still have to understand what there is ‘professional’ in being an accomplice to a con and a fraudster.”