Caruana Galizia says text of declaration of trust lists Michelle Muscat as holder of Egrant share

Blogger posts text of declaration of trust which indicates Michelle Muscat as holder of share in Egrant Inc

Joseph Muscat and Michelle Muscat during Labour's May Day rally in 2014
Joseph Muscat and Michelle Muscat during Labour's May Day rally in 2014

The blogger and Malta Independent columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia has posted the text which she says is on the two declarations of trust that audit firm Nexia BT would have given Pilatus Bank, showing the beneficiary of the offshore company Egrant as Michelle Muscat, the wife of the Maltese prime minister.

The physical documents were not uploaded to Caruana Galizia’s blog, but the blogger posted the text of these documents, which she claimed had been kept in a safe inside the Pilatus Bank kitchen at Whitehall Mansions, in Ta' Xbiex.

The text states that Dubro Limited SA – a Panamanian company – holds a share of Egrant, which is followed by the address of Nexia BT and the text “and that this share is being held as Nominee of and Trustee for Ms Michelle Muscat nee Tanti; Date of Birth: 16/05/1974; Place of Birth: Rabat, Malta.

The same text is also present on the other declaration of trust for Aliatar SA, another Panamanian company.

The post in which Daphne Caruana Galizia claims the declaration of trust lists Michelle Muscat as holder of a share in Egrant
The post in which Daphne Caruana Galizia claims the declaration of trust lists Michelle Muscat as holder of a share in Egrant

But on Xarabank, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat challenged Opposition leader Simon Busuttil whether he endorsed the text posted on Caruana Galizia's website. In his reply Busuttil did not answer yes or no, and instead complained of the failure of the police to investigate the Panama Papers properly, and then turned to Muscat to ask him whether it was true his chief of staff had a bank account at Pilatus Bank.

In a later intervention, Muscat pointed out that the text reproduced by Caruana Galizia contained two fundamental mistakes, listing the address of Egrant as the San Gwann address of Nexia BT, saying that Egrant was always a Panamanian company registered in Panama.

While the ICIJ website listed the address of Egrant as at the April 2016 publication as the San Gwann offices of Nexia, the incorporation document obtained from Dato Capital listed the address in 2013 as Marbella, 54th East Street, #3A, City of Panama. 

Muscat secondly said that the alleged text was false because Dubro and Aliator both sold their shares to Brian Tonna, a copy of which Muscat displayed on TV. "If these same companies sold their share to Tonna back in August 2013, how could they have on 20 August 2015 also sold the company to my wife if this already belonged to Tonna?"

However, it can be argued that beneficial ownership does not imply a transfer of shares, becuase a declaration of trust is a document whereby the legal owner says that he will hold the asset on trust for the beneficial owner.

MaltaToday understands – from a research carried out on public files available on Dato Capital – that both Dubro Limited SA and Aliator SA, respectively through the Mossack Fonseca employees Jaqueline Alexander and Verna de Nelson, were the same subscriber companies that formed the companies Hearnville Inc. and Tillgate Inc, the offshore companies owned by minister Konrad Mizzi and Joseph Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri.

According to the notarial document filed with the Panamanian registry, the incorporation of the companies was formalised on 4 July, 2013.

The latest Dato Capital report also shows that Egrant Inc. was incorporated by the same subscribers – Jacqueline Alexander for Dubro Limited SA and Verna de Nelson for Aliator SA, on 4 July 2013.

The date for the dissolution of Egrant is marked as 15 February, 2017.

Dubro Limited and Aliator SA are also found in the ICIJ's Panama Papers database, serving as Panamanian companies that set up offshore companies on behalf of Mossack Fonseca. They are connected to Mossack Fonseca's Faith Foundation, the vehicle created by Mossack Fonseca to hold shareholder interests in hundreds of companies formed to serve the firm’s clients, a circular way of protecting the true owners’ interests.

Caruana Galizia’s latest post came just minutes after Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addressed a Labour general conference and told his delegates that he would be facing Opposition leader Simon Busuttil on live TV and tell the truth.

“I will go there and look people, the nation, in the eye and tell them the truth,” he said.

Muscat has denied the allegations reported by Caruana Galizia and a magisterial inquiry was launched on his lawyers’ request, with a first visit carried out Friday morning in the offices of Pilatus Bank.

The bank, which has denied that the Muscats are clients, are alleged by Caruana Galizia to have been used for the transactions of large sums of money from the Azerbaijani first family of the Aliyevs, to Michelle Muscat; as well as to finance a loan of some $400,000 to Muscat’s business partner in New York, a costume jewellery designer.

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