[WATCH] Muscat speaks: I saw no corruption, no wrong moves but resolve to solve Daphne murder

The former Labour prime minister, forced to resign in the aftermath of the Yorgen Fenech arrest, speaks after his resignation as MP on TVM 

Joseph Muscat on TVM’s L-Erbgħa Fost il-Ġimgħa
Joseph Muscat on TVM’s L-Erbgħa Fost il-Ġimgħa

“I am the only prime minister in Malta’s history under whom a major crime has been solved.” 

So pronounced himself Joseph Muscat, the former Labour leader, in his first interview since resigning as MP on the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, on TVM. 

But Muscat denied having played any part in an alleged obfuscation to apprehend the mastermind Yorgen Fenech, the Tumas magnate accused of mandating the assassination. 

Instead, Muscat – who had known throughout 2019 that Fenech was a chief suspect – said he instructed chief of staff Keith Schembri to make sure that Fenech does not abscond from the island. 

Forced to resign in December 2019 after Schembri resigned when Fenech was arrested (Fenech owned 17 Black, a secret company connected to Schembri’s secret Panama company), Muscat insisted he “made the world move” to get America and Dutch police and Europol on the Caruana Galizia murder. 

“Had I had a finger in the pie, would I have done this to solve the case?” 

“I had absolutely nothing to do with the assassination,” he said later when asked.

He admitted having had WhatsApp chats with Yorgen Fenech and Keith Schembri, which he said were about “food, football... light chat... nothing compromising.” He said the police had rightly asked him about messages that concern him, “legitimate questions... I’m not worried at all.” 

In a brief moment of reflection, Muscat conceded it was an error to have accepted the explanation of Schembri for his Panama companies; although Muscat was his defender right to the end on his secret offshore network that was later revealed to be connected to Fenech, an Electrogas shareholder. 

“I can say that, in my eyes, I saw no wrong moves take place before me. I saw a resolve for the [assassination] case to be resolved,” he said of the court reports that detail police leaks, and OPM staff implicated in contacts with the assassination’s middleman Melvin Theuma, who turned State’s evidence. 

“Today I hear things that I did not know about; it is clear that there are things that one would have never been able to know about.”  

Muscat even denied that he never witnessed any proof on the corruption allegations lobbed at his administrations, and his chief of staff, repeatedly. 

“I have always rested on facts. Look at the oil scandal... nobody has been yet taken to trial. 

“What I know is that somebody sold Daphne Caruana Galizia huge lie about my wife and myself, and it took a €1 million investigation all over the world to prove this was untrue,” he said of the Egrant inquiry, which disproved the reports that his wife Michelle owned secret Panama company Egrant, or that the Muscats had been given $1 million from Azerbaijan’s rulers. 

He momentarily turned to the allegations against Keith Schembri, now under investigation over a kickback on the sale of Maltese passports by Nexia BT partner Brian Tonna. “I’d want to know what that magisterial inquiry concluded: have they found corruption or not? It’s only then that I could tell you whether there is corruption. Did the inquiring magistrate find corruption or not? I think it’s in the national interest to know the conclusions.” 

He discarded the suggestion that the Egrant inquiry did not conclusively show who owned the secret company opened by Nexia partner Brian Tonna. “If you want that inquiry, go to those who want it known. For all the claims of abuse of power, I never told the police to investigate those whom the magistrate the Egrant inquiry said should be investigated. The police have the inquiry’s results... I ask: have they taken steps? My wife and I were proved right, but we’re stuck under the shadow of the inquiry.” 

He denied having taken any money - “from nothing” - when queried about corruption allegations. “I learnt of Panama [Papers] from the media. It’s part of a series of inquiries, and I think people are owed an explanation of whether there is corruption or not.” 

He appeared less sure on a question about holding an inquiry into the Electrogas contract, Labour’s chief policy plank. “There’s has already been an NAO inquiry and scrutiny from the European Commission. The truth is it was so innovative, that we reduced utility bills two years before the plant was ready.” 

Muscat also revealed himself inclined to be pro-choice on abortion. “I’m not in favour of abortion. But the more time passes, it cannot be me who decides for a woman. I agree that we need a discussion and I slant towards the right of women to choose.”