In new book on Muscat’s decade as PL leader, PM talks about Egrant saga

The answers to the questions on the Egrant saga reflect the complete denial of wrongdoing the Muscats have been harping on since that dramatic evening in April last year

Muscat recounts returning home with his family, when he caught his daughters through the car’s rear-view mirror looking at a banner strung up by the Mosta PN club depicting him and his wife Michelle behind bars
Muscat recounts returning home with his family, when he caught his daughters through the car’s rear-view mirror looking at a banner strung up by the Mosta PN club depicting him and his wife Michelle behind bars

Egrant was “a fantastical invention,” Joseph Muscat insists as he recalls the angst of seeing his two young daughters perturbed by a banner of their parents behind bars.

Interviewed for a book commemorating his 10 years at Labour’s helm, Muscat attributes some of the decisions he took at the time to those delicate moments.

He recounts how one evening while returning home with his family, he caught his daughters through the car’s rear-view mirror looking at a banner strung up by the Nationalist Party club in Mosta.

The banner depicting Muscat and his wife Michelle behind bars was a reaction to the allegations that Michelle Muscat was the owner of Panama company Egrant.

The allegations were made on Daphne Caruana Galizia’s blog, based on information given to her by a former employee of Pilatus Bank, Maria Efimova. Egrant’s bank account at Pilatus was also supposed to have received a deposit of €1 million from a Dubai account belonging to the daughter of Azerbaijan’s President.

Muscat recalls how back at home his twin daughters went up to him and asked whether they would be staying with their grandmother if both their parents went to prison.

“At that point in time, everything takes on a different dimension. Some of the decisions I took in that situation, were based on those moments,” Muscat says, admitting the whole saga was a difficult time for him.

In the interview conducted by academic and radio host Andrew Azzopardi, the Prime Minister describes the “surreal moment” when then Opposition leader Simon Busuttil gave a televised press conference the night the Egrant saga developed.

Muscat says this was intended to destabilise the country.

“Egrant was a pure invention. I had no papers to show because it was simply not true. This worried and hurt me a lot… I only had my word to go by.”

Michelle Muscat promises that one day, a book will be written about the story.

Interviewed for the same book by Claire Xuereb Grech, she says the Opposition wanted to remove them from office “with a big lie”.

“I will not stop before the Egrant story is clarified. It is a lie, a pure invention,” she says,

While insisting that she has absolutely nothing to worry about, she is convinced truth will prevail. “For the time being, we will wait for the magistrate’s report. And then the truth will emerge.”

The answers to the questions on the Egrant saga reflect the complete denial of wrongdoing the Muscats have been harping on since that dramatic evening in April last year.

The magisterial inquiry requested by the Prime Minister is still ongoing and since then Muscat won a second mandate to lead the country with an even stronger majority.

Michelle Muscat says that she and Joseph continue to live a serene life.

“We would have lost our serenity if we knew that we did something [wrong]. I feel bad about one thing, that our friends were dragged into this story… they even invented a story about how my friend in New York received money,” she says.

The reference is possibly to Michelle Buttigieg, a former business partner of Michelle Muscat, who was appointed as Malta Tourism Authority representative in New York.

Buttigieg is also supposed to have received funds from the sister of Pilatus Bank owner Ali Sadr Hasheminejad.

The Caruana Galizia murder

In the interview, Muscat admits it was always his fear that something would happen to Daphne Caruana Galizia.

But he never expected something so dramatic.

“I used to think it could be someone who would walk up to her and offend her, or something similar.”

Caruana Galizia was murdered in a powerful car bomb on 16 October last year just after leaving her Bidnija house.

Muscat says the journalist was not an easy person to deal with while emphasising this was not an excuse for what happened to her.

“If she had been given police protection, she would have probably argued that somebody is putting the police outside her door to disrupt her work or spy on her… obviously, afterwards everyone is wiser,” Muscat adds.

Muscat says the decision to rope in foreign experts in the murder investigation left the desired results and three men stand charged in court.

“On the person or persons who ordered the crime… I believe, through the judicial process already under way, and through other things, one may possibly identify, who this person or persons are,” Muscat says.

George Degiorgio, his brother Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat are accused of carrying out the bombing.

READ ALSO: Muscat’s decade: How Eddie’s Nationalists ended up shouting ‘Joseph! Joseph!’

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