Speaker rules on Simon Busuttil’s Egrant claims

Speaker asks Busuttil to withdraw claim that Joseph Muscat only requested an inquiry after allowing evidence to be removed • Tuesday's parliamentary sitting cancelled to mark anniversary of Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder

Speaker Anglu Farrugia asked Busuttil to withdarw or change his statement
Speaker Anglu Farrugia asked Busuttil to withdarw or change his statement

The Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia this evening asked former Opposition leader and PN MP Simon Busuttil to withdraw, or alter, a statement he made during last Wednesday’s parliamentary sitting, regarding the Egrant inquiry.

Speaking during parliamentary adjournment last week, Busuttil said that he still believed that the Panamanian company Egrant Inc belong to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

The company was alleged to have belonged to the Prime Minister’s wife Michelle in April last year, with 17-month long magisterial inquiry finding no evidence linking the company to Muscat.

Busuttil insisted that he had believed the claims because there was a credible report by slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who had been proved right on her allegations about Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri.

“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 said that Muscat had only requested an inquiry after he had been assured that the evidence had been removed from Pilatus Bank – the bank alleged to have held a bank account for Egrant Inc.

In his ruling, Farrugia said that while he majority of the comments made by Busuttil constituted his opinions, he could not allow MPs to cite facts which are not true and to imply that a member of the House has committed a crime.

He said that after analysing CCTV footage, the inquiry had found nothing backing up claims that the bank’s chairman Ali Sadr Hasheminejad had removed any documents from the bank in the hours before the magisterial inquiry was called.

READ MORE: I still believe Joseph Muscat owns Egrant’ – Simon Busuttil

As a result, Busuttil was asked to withdraw or change his statement.

A seemingly surprised Busuttil asked the speaker to confirm that it was just that statement that he was being asked to withdraw, which the speaker confirmed. 

“I accept your decision,” Busuttil said, before proceeding to change his statement.

“I thought that his behaviour was suspicious for a number of reasons including the fact that the inquiry was not requested until about 1am and that the police only went to the bank the day after.”

Parliament cancelled tomorrow

Last week, Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi said on Facebook that he believed that Tuesday's parliamentary sitting should not be held to mark the one-year anniversary since the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Government whip Byron Camilleri said that the government agreed that the sitting should be cancelled and that there was agreement on both sides of the House. 

Parliament will resume as normal on Wednesday

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