[WATCH] Busuttil: 'I will publish evidence if Muscat continues to challenge me'

Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil was accompanied to court by a delegation carrying 'eight files of evidence' against OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri over alleged money laundering

Simon Bussuttil appeared in court this morning to present evidence against Keith Schembri and Adrian Hillman. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Simon Bussuttil appeared in court this morning to present evidence against Keith Schembri and Adrian Hillman. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Busuttil presents evidence in court against Schembri and Hillman

Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil has warned Prime Minister Joseph Muscat that he will publish evidence showing how his chief of staff is guilty of graft and money laundering if Muscat continues to insist that the Opposition leader does not have hard evidence in hand.

Busuttil appeared in court this morning accompanied by a delegation carrying eight files of evidence, after inquiring magistrate Aaron Bugeja accepted a court application Busuttil filed yesterday, making himself available to testify once again over revelations from documents he claimed show OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri paid to former Allied Group managing director Adrian Hillman €650,000 between 2011 and 2015.

“I have said several times that I felt it was my responsibility to present this evidence in court. But let me say this, if the Prime Minister continues to defy me and deny that my evidence is correct, I will not hesitate to publish them,” Busuttil told journalists upon exiting the court.

Busuttil described the evidence he presented as “chilling” and said it left no doubt that money laundering had taken place in how €650,000 had made its way from Schembri to Hillman, through a series of investments.

“What is interesting is the official reason for these payments according to Brian Tonna... it was a payment for a consultancy for services relating to editing and publishing. It speaks volumes about what is happening,” Busuttil said, referring to Brian Tonna - who in his capacity as auditor - justified the transfers as such.

The machinations had started before the election and carried on till 2015, he said. “These people were corrupt from their time in opposition. This is why their place is not in politics. They have dirtied politics, they have dirtied us who are in politics and above all they have sullied the name of our country.”

Busuttil had already taken evidence claiming kickbacks paid to Schembri by auditor Brian Tonna on the sale of Maltese citizenship, but Bugeja later issued a decree so that a new inquiry be launched, led by Natasha Galea Sciberras.

This morning, he repeated his condemnation of the Police Commissioner and "a few senior police officers who had let themselves become tools for corruption."

“Imagine: Magistrates Bugeja and Galea Sciberras, to do their jobs, need to use the police – the same police who knew about this for a year and did nothing.”

It was almost in the interests of the police that the evidence never sees the light of day, Busuttil suggested. “That is not to say that there is an interest in the evidence being destroyed.”

"We don't only have a situation where the people in Castille are corrupt, but one where the institutions that should be protecting us are protecting them."

Asked by MaltaToday about Joseph Muscat's warning that Busuttil would have to carry the responsibility for the “calumny of Egrant”, Busuttil was adamant. “I have no doubt that Egrant belongs to the Prime Minister and I do not believe him at all. I cannot understand how the magistrate cannot reach a conclusion. All that is required is prima facie evidence. At face value, is there enough evidence for this to be investigated? That is all the magistrate needs to do.”

The inquiry was not intended to establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt, he said. “I believe the whistleblower and the FIAU, but the court is to decide...I cannot see a way that the magistrate could reach a conclusion other than that there is a case, at face value.”

Busuttil said words failed him in thanking those who “at great risk to themselves and to their families, came forward with evidence. In return I promise them my full protection.”

“Your country is calling you. Come forward.”

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