‘I still believe Joseph Muscat owns Egrant’ – Simon Busuttil

Parliamentary bedlam continues as Simon Busuttil insists Joseph Muscat owns an offshore company that a magisterial inquiry decided wasn’t his • PN leader Adrian Delia holds live TV interview during speech

Nationalist MP Simon Busuttil
Nationalist MP Simon Busuttil

Former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil reaffirmed what had been his electoral campaign’s cynosure by declaring once again that he believes Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is the owner of the secret Panama company Egrant. 

Despite the result of a magisterial inquiry that found no conclusive evidence that Muscat or his family owned the offshore company, Busuttil’s winding-down speech earned an inflamed reaction from MPs who accused him of being in breach of parliamentary rules. 

Labour whip Byron Camilleri insisted with the deputy Speaker that Busuttil was breaching Standing Orders and that he “clearly does not believe in the rule of law or regulations of this House.” 

Camilleri also said Busuttil was breaching rules against offensive words made against the character of members of the House, by indirectly accusing the Prime Minister of perjury. 

“It’s impossible for the Prime Minister to not know who Egrant belongs to,” Busuttil claimed. “All that the Prime Minister had to do was ask Brian Tonna,” he said, referring to the Nexia BT managing partner who was responsible for opening Egrant and the two companies belonging to chief of staff Keith Schembri and minister Konrad Mizzi. 

Busuttil also answered to the Prime Minister calling him a fraud yesterday evening. “I am the fraud? Not Mossack Fonseca?” he asked. He said that Ramon Fonseca, the one registering Keith Schembri’s and Konrad Mizzi’s companies in Panama - companies that were allegedly going to be used to deposit $150,000 a month - is currently in prison. “Jurgen Mossack is also in prison for fraud,” Busuttil said. “And Jacqueline Alexander, an employee responsible for some 8,000 companies in her name is in prison as well.” 

The MP also argued that Tuesday’s threats levelled in his direction by the Prime Minister were unprecedented and that the threat of “you will not return to Malta” was extremely serious in a country where a journalist was assassinated just a year ago.  

Busuttil once again urged for the Egrant inquiry report to be published in its entirety. “Even the 50-page summary does not clear the Prime Minister’s name. The last page of the summary says that it was found that Egrant doesn’t belong to the Prime Minister. So after a year, we still do not know who it belongs to?” 

He said that he believed that the Prime Minister owned the company because the Panama Papers had revealed the companies of Schembri and Mizzi. “So, yes, I still believe that Egrant belongs to the Prime Minister.” 

Byron Camilleri responded by saying that Busuttil was accusing Muscat of perjury since the latter had to testify before the magistrate, claiming that the company was not his. “This is extremely serious,” Camilleri said, “and I ask for a ruling. Simon Busuttil is attributing bad intentions to a Prime Minister who was already cleared in court.” 

Busuttil replied by saying that freedom of expression was more important than a standing order. This was countered by retaliation from the cabinet ministers. Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield was called to order over a blasphemy he uttered during the proceedings and was suspended by deputy Speaker Claudette Buttigieg. 

While Busuttil gave his winding-down speech, Opposition leader Adrian Delia was making sure he secures the airtime on party station Net, with a live interview.

Delia ally Hermann Schiavone also declared on Facebook that Busuttil's statement on Egrant was his personal opinion and not the party's official stand. "The party leader has always expressed full trust in the inquiring magistrate and that the party accepts the conclusions of the Egrant report."

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