Muscat takes aim at Caruana Galizia claims of ‘nothing illegal’ alleged in Egrant posts

Husband of assassinated journalist files affidavit in defamation suit filed by former Labour prime minister against Daphne Caruana Galizia

Former prime minister Joseph Muscat
Former prime minister Joseph Muscat

Joseph Muscat has taken an axe to an affidavit filed by the husband of assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in a defamation case the former Labour premier filed over claims the journalist made of his alleged ownership of an offshore Panama company – Egrant.

A magisterial inquiry requested by Muscat had disproved claims by Caruana Galizia of a million-dollar transaction from the Azerbaijani ruling family to Muscat’s wife back in 2018.

But in a Facebook post, Muscat took exception to claims by Peter Caruana Galizia that the Egrant inquiry stopped shot of disproving entirely his family’s ownership of the secret company.

In his affidavit, Caruana Galizia insisted that his late wife’s blogposts on the alleged ownership of Egrant never alleged anything illegal, pointing to a disclaimer found on the ICIJ’s website dealing with the Panama Papers’ findings.

Carauana Galizia also said there was no indication in the blogposts that the Muscats had recieved money from a company owned by Leyla Aliyeva. But Daphne Caruana Galizia had indeed claimed that a million-dollar transaction had taken place between Aliyeva and Muscat. Peter Caruana Galizia also said in his affidavit that his wife had told him she had seen a declaration of trust on the Egrant shares belonging to Michelle Muscat, but he was unaware of her sources, conceding that one of them could be Maria Efimova, the former Pilatus Bank official who left Malta in 2017. A European Arrest Warrant has been issued for Maria Efimova, the woman outed as the former Pilatus Bank employee who blew the whistle on the Egrant scandal. 

“Peter Caruana Galizia’s argument is that since nobody culpable was found as to Egrant’s ownership, my ownership therefore cannot be excluded. The same reasoning could be applied to him being its alleged owner, a hypothesis as worthless as his own,” Muscat said.

“I have offered to withdraw this lawsuit simply if the Caruana Galizia family recognises the conclusions of the inquiry. Dr Peter Caruana Galizia said he and his children cannot accept this. I’m not asking for a statement that says Caruana Galizia was fed false evidence, but simply a recognition of the Egrant inquiry’s conclusions – the same way I will accept the results of the independent inquiry into Caruana Galizia’s assassination,” Muscat said.

The former PM still accused the board of inquiry of having abandoned its original terms of reference. “It’s clear what their conclusions will be. I will submit to inquiries whether the verdict suits me or not.”