Updated | Mizzi, Schembri sue Caruana Galizia over fresh Panama allegations

Daphne Caruana Galizia says she has proof of money transfers to Panama companies and claims to know owner of mysterious 'Egrant' 

Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri have sued Daphne Caruana Galizia for libel after the Malta Independent columnist claimed on her blog that large sums of money had been transferred from an Azerbaijani bank account to accounts belonging to their offshore Panama companies.

In a statement, Schembri accused Caruana Galizia of lying and said he has requested the court hear his case with urgency.

“Caruana Galizia should also agree that the case be heard with urgency if she truly believes that the Maltese public deserve to know the truth,” he said.

The Panama Papers scandal looks set to develop further this week, after Caruana Galizia teasingly told her readers that she had discovered who owns the third Panama company, the mysterious Egrant.

Egrant was one of the three companies set up through the Malta offices of Nexia BT, by Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. But the Panama Papers leaks never conclusively revealed Egrant’s ownership, with Nexia BT boss Brian Tonna claiming on the eve of the Panama Papers committee of MEPs’ visit to Malta that the offshore company was his own.

In a blog post, under the heading ‘Egrant Inc: hiding in plain sight’, Caruana Galizia claimed that through a serious of “serendipitous flukes”, she had discovered who owns the third company in the Panama Papers scandal, Egrant Inc.

“This website also has information on several movements of very large sums of money from the bank account of a company owned by politically exposed persons (PEPs) in Azerbaijan to bank accounts held by Egrant Inc, Hearnville Inc (ultimate beneficial owner: Konrad Mizzi, the Minister Within The Office of the Prime Minister) and Tillgate Inc (UBO: Keith Schembri, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff),” she wrote.

A Maltese bank, set up after 2013, was used to move the money, she added.

Caruana Galizia said she would reveal full details this coming week as she was waiting to contact several people for comment and could not reach them over Easter weekend.

In his statement, Schembri denied the claims carried in the blog and said that whoever made any allegations had the duty to substantiate them.  “The internal chaos within the Nationalist Party will usher in a season of lies and fake news,” his statement read. “I am determined not to ignore any further lies and fake stories about me.”

Mizzi too denied the allegations. “No sum of money was ever transferred to Hearnville Inc.,” he said in a statement. “Indeed, Hearnville Inc. never had any bank account.”

He insisted no funds from or related to Azerbaijan were ever transferred in any way to him or any member of his family. “Daphne Caruana Galizia is lying outright,” he said.