Updated | Egrant inquiry should be revisited after arraignment of Nexia BT partners - PN

The Nationalist Party says Egrant inquiry should be revisited in light of charges filed against former Nexia BT partners Brian Tonna and Karl Cini • Ex-PM Joseph Muscat accuses PN of being uninterested in the truth

PN MPs Beppe Fenech Adami and Therese Comodini Cachia
PN MPs Beppe Fenech Adami and Therese Comodini Cachia

Updated at 6pm with Joseph Muscat reaction

The Egrant inquiry should be revisited in the wake of financial crime charges filed last Saturday against Nexia BT partners Brian Tonna and Karl Cini, the Nationalist Party said.

PN MP Beppe Fenech Adami noted that the main argument used to dismiss the Egrant allegations was that documents had been falsified. "But now we know that one of the people who helped set up the Panama companies, including Egrant, are facing charges of falsification of documents... the Egrant inquiry left many unanswered questions and it is in the national interest to know whom the third company (Egrant) belonged to," Fenech Adami said.

He said documentary evidence showed that the Panama companies belonging to Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi were set to recieve money from 17 Black, which is owned by Yorgen Fenech. "Yes, the authorities have a duty to revisit the Egrant inquiry," he said when asked about the matter during a press conference with fellow MP Therese Comodini Cachia.

READ ALSO: Keith Schembri and 10 others charged with corruption, fraud, money laundering

Comodini Cachia said the arraignments on Saturday were a small but significant step forward. However, she insisted that the culture of impunity has not ended. She said Prime Minister Robert Abela continues to protect those in public roles who have been implicated in wrongdoing or unethical behaviour.

“These were years of impunity based on the capture of public institutions and normalisation of the interests of the few, all with the protection of the Prime Minister,” Comodini Cachia said.  

She went on to say that last Saturday’s charges were thanks to the efforts of journalists, civil society and the Opposition, particularly former PN leader Simon Busuttil. "But journalists continue to reveal new facts every day, and yet our current PM continues to protect these people," she said, adding that despite Abela’s efforts to distance himself from last Saturday’s events, the culture of impunity still exists in the country.  

"We see Johann Butigieg retaining his government job, despite allegations made against him, we see Ministers Byron Camilleri and Edward Zammit Lewis trying to discredit the work done by the Standards’ Commissioner. There is still a lot to be done," she said.  

Fenech Adami also hit out at the PM for saying that he can only answer to what was done during his time, in last Sunday’s political speech.  

“In his leadership campaign Abela had stressed on continuity from the Muscat administration. He had boasted about his consultation role with the previous PM. Now he cannot try to brush off responsibility by distancing himself,” he said.  

Asked whether PN MP Mario Demarco’s involvement with the Strickland Foundation that owns the Allied Group puts the party in an uncomfortable situation when commenting on last Saturday’s events, Comodini Cachia said the Opposition's credibility rested on its unstinting efforts to uncover the truth over the past five years.

Joseph Muscat reacts

Former prime minister Joseph Muscat accused the PN of wanting to seek revenge against him and his family rather than search for the truth by calling for the Egrant inquiry to be re-opened.

Il-Partit Nazzjonalista illum kixef il-maskra li minkejja dak kollu li jgħid, ma jemminx fl-istituzzjonijiet jekk dawn...

Posted by Joseph Muscat on Monday, 22 March 2021

"The PN mask has fallen; irrespective of what the party says, it does not believe in the institutions if these do not play to its tune," Muscat wrote in a Facebook post.

The Egrant inquiry had concluded that Muscat's wife, Michelle, was not the owner of Egrant and had not received money from the Azerbaijani ruling family, as had been claimed by Daphne Caruana Galizia.

"The PN does not want the truth, because that is known and proven. What it wants is revenge against my family and myself because they will never forgive me for winning over people's trust to stop it from treating this country as its personal fiefdom, as it did for almost 25 years," Muscat said.