[WATCH] Muscat and Busuttil to face off on Xarabank debate: ‘Today is day of proof’, PM says

'Simon Busuttil is an accomplice in this attempted frame-up,' Prime Minister tells reporters during press conference at Castille

Joseph Muscat has denied that his wife Michelle is the beneficiary of a secret Panamanian offshore company
Joseph Muscat has denied that his wife Michelle is the beneficiary of a secret Panamanian offshore company
Prime Minister: ‘Today is day of proof’

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has challenged Opposition leader Simon Busuttil to debate him live on TV on Xarabank tonight Friday.

Muscat was addressing a press conference today, less than 24 hours after allegations were made by Malta Independent columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia that his wife Michelle was the beneficial owner of a Panamanian offshore company, and that he was ordering a magisterial inquiry into the allegations.

Muscat said he would not resign pending the investigation. “I will take my political decisions based on what is found. This investigation is based on allegations endorsed by the Opposition leader.”

He also said he would only call a general election when he sees fit, and that he would be holding his May Day rally as is customary for Labour.

“I have always said the truth, which is why I am challenging Simon Busuttil to meet me in a TV debate... Today is the day of proof,” Muscat said. “I am doing this with the utmost responsibility.”

Muscat said Busuttil had to answer for the allegations he had repeated “with proof. He said it was not his job to bring proof – it’s not his job to throw mud.”

The Oppposition leader said he had already been invited on Xarabank and said he had no difficuly to debate with Muscat. "About time, because the Prime Minister has been running away from this appointment for three whole years."

The Nationalist Party said the country was now in a political crisis with a "prime minister under investigation" and that Muscat was in a state of panic.

Muscat said he has also filed a libel against Daphne Caruana Galizia, and that he had asked his lawyers to request the Commissioner of Police for a magisterial inquiry to be held. According to Muscat, the inquiry was kicked off last night.

The Prime Minister said he wanted the investigation to determine clearly:

  • Whether there was an authentic document that an undeclared company or bank accont could have been his, his wife’s or his family’s;
  • If this company or his family has an undeclared bank account in Pilatus bank or any other bank;
  • If this company or its bank account had ever received money from someone, among them from people in Azerbaijan;
  • If transfers from the bank were ever made to these companies anywhere in the world;
  • If transfers of money took place from any bank to Michelle Buttigieg, the business partner of Michelle Muscat.

Muscat said that all bank transactions are recorded internationally through correspondent banks, and said it would be easy to authenticate whether any of the transactions are real.

“Today I choose once again to appeal for serenity. I am saddened by these allegations, but I appeal for calm. The Opposition leader has a broken party and he is trying to hang my wife and children out to dry... in the process he is buying into a frame-up and imperilling our financial services industry.”

As reporters questioned Muscat to present “proof” that he and his family were in no way connected to Egrant, the Prime Minister replied that his proof was in “the declaration of assets”.

“The inquiring magistrate has all the freedom to study all papers or documents,” he replied, adding that Busuttil was “an accomplice in an attempted frame-up”.  
Asked whether he would resign pending the inquiry, Muscat reiterated that the allegations were “fabricated”.

“I expect Busuttil to shoulder political responsibility when it emerges that all these allegations are lies,” Muscat said.

The Prime Minister, in reply to concerns that any evidence may have already been destroyed, also argued that money transfers and transactions cannot be deleted. “I also would like to think that those making these serious allegations have some form of evidence,” he added.

More in National

Get access to the real stories first with the digital edition