What we know so far from The Daphne Project

Day 2 • News organisations from around the world have pored over thousands of documents and files in order to continue murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s work

The Daphne Project is a consortium of 45 journalists from 18 news organisations around the world that has started publishing a series of stories about Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination and journalistic work.

The project was coordinated by Forbidden Stories, an investigative non-profit organisation dedicated to the completion of work started by jailed and murdered journalists.

The investigation included journalists from the Times of Malta, The New York Times, IRPI, The Guardian, Die Zeit, Direkt, France 2, La Repubblica, Le Monde, NDR, Radio France, Reuters, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Tages Anzeiger, WDR, Premieres Lignes, RNZ and the OCCRP

The stories started breaking shortly after 6pm on Tuesday, and included a number of previously unknown facts and allegations about the events surrounding journalist’s murder. 

Here are the main points so far:

Day One: 17 April 2018

Chris Cardona and the Degiorgio brothers

  • Two witnesses who spoke independently to reporters from Radio France and France 2 said the minister visited the bar often over the weekend.
  • Cardona told reporters that he did not arrange to meet the suspects and could not recall whether he had met them at the bar.
  • One of the two witnesses said that one of the suspects was a regular at the bar and had also visited the day before he was arrested.
  • France 2 reports that the witness claimed Cardona had been drinking with the Degiorgio brothers at some point before the murder.
  • The second witness was introduced to reporters by a “high-ranking member of the Nationalist Party”.
  • He claimed to have seen Cardona with Alfred Degiorgio roughly one month after the murder. The two men allegedly spoke for more than hour and half, during which time Cardona appeared “preoccupied”. 
  • The second witness also claimed the two men also left the bar and walked around the village square.
  • Cardona is a regular at the bar on weekends and was allegedly seen by one witness speaking to Alfred Degiorgio in November 2017, one month after the journalist’s murder
  • A second witness told reporters from France 2 and Radio France that he had seen Cardona speaking to the Degiorgio brothers, both of whom have been accused of her murder – before the murder

Caruana Galizia's widower and three sons at the European Parliament
Caruana Galizia's widower and three sons at the European Parliament

Read also: Witness saw Chris Cardona chatting with Caruana Galizia murder suspect in Siggiewi bar
Read also: Cardona publishes answers to Daphne Project, ‘reports have no foundation of truth’

Political interests

  • In his first interview since the murder, Daphne Caruana Galizia’s widower Peter told the Guardian he believed “political interests were blocking the police investigation”.
  • A source close to the investigation told the Daphne Project to “avoid the assumption this [the murder] was any kind of political conspiracy”.
  • The Guardian cites sources close to the investigation claiming that police were working on the assumption that the bomb maker was still at large and that whoever had ordered the attacks had links to organised crime. 
  • Sources also told the newspaper that the men had likely been tipped off before the raid at the Marsa potato shed.

Read also: Authorities are protecting mastermind behind murder, Peter Caruana Galizia says

Caruana Galizia’s laptop

  • Caruana Galizia’s sister, Corinne Vella, was quoted by the New York Times saying that the family had held on the journalist’s laptop because it did not trust the authorities in Malta.

Read also: Daphne’s sister admits family kept her laptop

Sketch of the accused in the dock | Artist: Perit Eric Gerardi
Sketch of the accused in the dock | Artist: Perit Eric Gerardi

The men accused with Caruana Galizia’s murder

  • George Degiorgio 55, unemployed, lives in St Paul's Bay, known as Ic-Ciniz
  • Alfred Degiorgio, 53, unemployed lives in St Paul's Bay, known as il-Fulu
  • Vincent Muscat, 55, unemployed lives in Msida, known as il-Kohhu

 Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi
Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi

Day Two: 18 April 2018

17 Black

  • Emails were published showing financial advisors Nexia BT explain how a Dubai company 17 Black was named as a “target client” of the Panama companies set up for Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.
  • The company, first mentioned in a cryptic post by the slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in early 2017, and later reported about by The Malta Independent, was revaled to have had a total $1.6 million (€1.3 million) transferred to it.
  • Investigators from Malta’s anti-money laundering agency (FIAU) traced two payments totalling $1.4 million (€1.1 million) paid into 17 Black, from a company in the Seychelles called Mayor Trans, which is owned by an Azerbaijani national.
  • The $1.4 million was wired in November 2015, via ABLV, a Latvian bank recently closed down due to money laundering violations.
  • The report states that it was US anti-money laundering authorities who identified transactions concerning 17 Black as possible “shell company activity, suspicious wire transfers and money laundering.”
  • At the time of the transactions, financial advisors Nexia BT was opening the secret Panama companies for Schembri, the prime minister’s chief of staff, and then energy minister Konrad Mizzi.
  • The emails state that Schembri and Mizzi were set to receive “Eur 150,000” monthly through their Panama companies, via 17 Black and Macbridge, according to details provided by Nexia BT partner Karl Cini in the same e-mail.
  • Mizzi told the Daphne Project that there was no connection, direct or otherwise, between the companies and the trust, and any entity called 17 Black. “Hearnville never held a bank account, and never received any funds from any source,” a spokesman said.
  • According to Nexia emails, the company accounts for Tillgate and Hearnville would generate “around USD2m” within a year.

READ MORE: Dubai company 17 Black was ‘target client’ of Schembri’s and Mizzi’s Panama set-ups

LNG tanker payment

  • Another $200,000 (€161,000) payment was sent to 17 Black by Orion Engineering, the company owned by Mario Pullicino, the agent for the LNG tanker that supplies gas to the new power station.
  • Mario Pullicino told The Times he had nothing to add to his previous denial that Orion Engineering was involved in any payment of kickbacks linked to the LNG FSU. 

READ MORE: After 2017 denial, Keith Schembri now acknowledges existence of 17 Black

Statements by Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri 

  • Konrad Mizzi, who travelled to Dubai a month after the payment, denied having opened a bank account there.
  • He described the reports as "a repetition of unfounded allegations and speculation made prior to the June 2017 elections".
  • Mizzi said that an independent audit into his trust and company structure, which he commissioned in the wake of the Panama Papers revelations, had concluded the structure was solely intended as a family trust. The audit also established that no trading activities were undertaken by the trust and its fully owned subsidiary Hearnville Inc and that no bank accounts were held by the trust and company.
  • The Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri admitted knowledge of the Dubai company 17 Black, which at the height of the 2017 elections was rumoured to be connected to kickbacks paid on the LNG energy project.
  • Keith Schembri issued an email via the Department of Information stating: “17 Black and Macbridge were included in draft business plans for my business group as potential clients …I have no knowledge of the transfers referred to, nor any knowledge of the alleged payment.”
  • Both Schembri and Mizzi denied any wrongdoing and that no bank accounts were ever set up for their Panama companies. The two men are resisting a magisterial inquiry into their Panama dealings.

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