Jonathan Ferris fed magistrate line that Egrant was Labour’s electoral fund

Egrant Inquiry sources: ‘Jonathan Ferris suggested John Dalli told him Egrant was Labour’s electoral fund’ • Dalli denied allegation to magistrate

“You’re taking me back two years… I don’t remember. Of course, I did investigate Dalli. I appeared before Bugeja but I don’t remember if it was about Egrant or any other inquiry,” Jonathan Ferris said
“You’re taking me back two years… I don’t remember. Of course, I did investigate Dalli. I appeared before Bugeja but I don’t remember if it was about Egrant or any other inquiry,” Jonathan Ferris said

The inquiring magistrate into the Egrant affair was told at one point that the secret Panamanian company had been owned by the Labour Party, to serve as a vehicle for its electoral funds.

The claim – not mentioned in the inquiry conclusions released to the public – was allegedly made to Magistrate Aaron Bugeja by the former police inspector Jonathan Ferris who left the corps in October 2016 to join the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit a month later.

MaltaToday is informed by two sources privy to the investigation led by the magistrate, that Ferris allegedly told Bugeja that it was John Dalli – the former EU Commissioner – who suggested during a police interrogation that Egrant belonged to the PL.

Dalli was later called in by Bugeja for an explanation, and denied having ever told Ferris such a statement.

Yesterday MaltaToday got in touch with both men. Dalli refused to comment on the magisterial inquiry, apart from denying that he had ever had any knowledge or connection to Egrant.

Ferris on the other hand, told MaltaToday he could not recall suggesting the allegation to Bugeja.​

“You’re taking me back two years… I don’t remember. Of course, I did investigate Dalli. I appeared before Bugeja but I don’t remember if it was about Egrant or any other inquiry,” the former FIAU investigator said.

MaltaToday is, however, reliably informed that throughout the course of the Egrant magisterial inquiry, Dalli was asked whether he had indeed told Ferris during police questioning that the Panamanian company Egrant was intended for Labour’s electoral funds.

Dalli had been investigated by Ferris over allegations that his companies had been involved in a Ponzi scheme that defrauded American investors. His two daughters have since been charged with money laundering, fraud and misappropriation. The case itself had been covered in astounding detail by Daphne Caruana Galizia months after Dalli’s secret Bahamas trip was splashed on the New York Times.

The fascinating aspect of the allegation that Egrant was a company belonging to the Labour Party for its electoral funds is how it resonates with statements first made by Simon Busuttil back in September 2016.

Answering questions during an interview at an Independence rally on 17 September, Busuttil mooted the suggestion that Egrant stood for ‘election grant’, connected to Labour’s own financing efforts.

“We don’t have a company called Egrant in Panama,” Busuttil told interviewer Peppi Azzopardi on being asked about party financing. “Because what is Egrant after all?... ‘E’ – what does ‘e’ represent? To me it seems that it stands for ‘election’. I think this Panama company Egrant is for electoral donations.”

Ferris has said that he passed on the Dalli investigation to his superior in November 2015, but the charges were slow to be issued. An illustration of this impatience came in one of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s blogposts on 2 March 2017, where she complained that the fraud charges against the Dalli sisters had not yet been filed – a matter she insisted had informed Ferris’s resignation from the police force.

The two Dalli sisters were finally charged on 8 January, 2018.

Still, earlier in 2016, soon after the Panama Papers broke, the suggestion that Joseph Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri – owner of Panamanian company Tillgate – had himself financed the Labour Party’s campaign was already making the political rounds.

Schembri had then put paid to the insinuation that a €1.5 million loan registered in his Kasco group accounts in 2012, had been intended for Labour’s electoral campaign. In a piece published by The Times in May 2016, Schembri said the loan was a credit line to a major client: Progress Press, the publisher and printer of The Times. “Essentially Kasco served as a financing vehicle to assist Progress Press and Allied Newspapers to meet their payment terms. To date Kasco still has a substantial amount of account receivables that are pending from Allied Group,” Schembri had said.

More in National

Get access to the real stories first with the digital edition

Subscribe