Muscat: ‘I wanted to fade away but the police search was the straw that broke the camel’s back’

Former prime minister Joseph Muscat accuses magisterial inquiry of invading his privacy, denying his service to Accutor was a kickback from Steward

Joseph Muscat was interviewed on Lovin Malta
Joseph Muscat was interviewed on Lovin Malta

Former prime minister Joseph Muscat has denied that a €60,000 payment by Accutor AG, a Swiss company with a connection to Steward Healthare, was a kickback.

Muscat said in an interview with Lovin Malta that he was being accused of having taken a kickback for services rendered to the firm, in what is a case of revolving doors for the former PM.

“The advice I gave to Accutor had nothing to do with Malta,” Muscat said, saying the work done referred to infrastructural projects in a number of continents involving high-ranking companies. “When I announced that I would be resigning, a number people approached me and offered me roles.”

He made repeated referencesto former prime minister Lawrence Gonzi, alluding to his post-2013 chairmanship with Nemea Bank, whose banking licence was withdrawn after the bank was shut down by the financial regulator.

“Even Steward came out wth a strong statement saying, ‘this is not true’... there were former prime ministers who became chairman of a bank in Malta – no-one accused them of taking kickbacks becuase they had given that bank a licence,” Muscat said.

The 48-year-old former Labour leader has taken issue with a police search on his house connected to a magisterial inquiry into the Vitals Global Healthcare concession. He says he volunteered the information on his private service to Accutor earlier on in November, claiming the January police search and confiscation of his family’s mobile phones were “theatrics”.

“I carried out my communication with the magistrate through the proper channels. The ball is in her court. I know she has a lot of pressure from NGOs and the usual suspects”

Muscat said he inteded to “fade away” and give space to his successor Robert Abela.

“The search on my home was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Muscat said. “I realised that being at the fringes was being interpreted as me hiding away, which was not the case.”

Muscat said his privacy had been “totally invaded” because of who he is; and that he had been busy meeting people to communicate his “version of events to those that are interested in hearing them out… People I trust.”

Muscat also said he is still in touch with practically everyone from the Labour Party and that he speaks to former minister Konrad Mizzi every week.

“I told him that I disagree with him not answering questions at the Public Accounts Committee because I think that the answers he can give are very good from the technical point of view of the NAO report.”

He also confirmed that he speaks to his former chief of staff Keith Schembri every two weeks or so.

He said former government team members pick his brain on particular topics, while others have maintained a friendly relationship with him.

He also said Robert Abela sometimes directly approaches him to counter-check previous government decisions.