[WATCH] To protect sources, Busuttil won't make evidence available to the public

The PN leader said the wants to send a message to others who might have information that they could come forward

Simon Busuttil appeared in front of inquiring magistrate Aaron Bugeja at 9am. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Simon Busuttil appeared in front of inquiring magistrate Aaron Bugeja at 9am. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Simon Busuttil testifies on kickbacks allegations

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil this morning appeared in front of magistrate Aaron Bugeja to give his testimony in the inquiry into allegations stemming from the Panama Papers leak.

Speaking to journalists outside the courts, Busuttil said that he had discussed both allegations about the owner and dealings of the company Egrant, as well as allegations of kickbacks from the sale of citizenship by the prime minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri.

On Wednesday, Busuttil claimed he had “irrefutable evidence” which proved that Keith Schembri had received two payments of €50,000 from an account belonging to Brian Tonna, who in turn – Busuttil alleged – had received €166,831.90 from three Russian individuals who were waiting to be awarded Maltese citizenship through the scheme.

Earlier, he had filed an application in court, urging inquiring magistrate Aaron Bugeja to invite him to testify and to let him present the evidence during investigations into claims that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s wife – Michelle – owns shares in the secret Panama company Egrant.

Asked whether the evidence he is in possession of is from the FIAU report drawn up last year in wake of the leaks, and whether he would be publishing evidence before a possible early election, Busuttil said  he intends to protect his sources at all cost.

"l understand that you and the media press me for my information but I have made it clear that I will protect, with my life, anyone who passes on information because I understand that for someone it is difficult to pass on this kind of information," he said. "This is why I am offering full protection of the source of my information."

Busuttil stressed that he has faith in the source of the information and believes the evidence to be authentic.

"Because I believe that it is authentic I came directly to the magistrate who is investigating. Therefore, my answer is that no I will not pass on the information even if you ask it in a different way," he continued. "I want to send a message that anyone with information about the case can safely pass on information."

Blogger and Malta Independent columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who first alleged that Michelle Muscat, held shares in Egrant, is also appeared before magistrate Bugeja today.

Caruana Galizia initially argued that appearing before the magistrate would potentially put her source at risk, however, according to local media, the blogger said that police from the fraud squad handed over a summons to her to appear in court this morning during a visit to her house.

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