Updated | Borg lambasts ‘gross calumny’ raised during EC briefing over Aliyev residence

During European Commission press briefing, press asks whether EC is aware of MEPs looking into claims of a bribe to foreign minister to award residence permit to Kazakh billionaire Rakhat Aliyev.

Tonio Borg - MEPs might ask the commissioner-designate why Rakhat Aliyev was awarded a residence permit.
Tonio Borg - MEPs might ask the commissioner-designate why Rakhat Aliyev was awarded a residence permit.

Foreign minister and EU commissioner-designate Tonio Borg has lambasted an allegation raised during today's press briefing at the European Commission as a "gross calumny and lie", which claimed that MEPs were looking into bribery allegations concerning the minister.

The ominous signs of Tonio Borg's "severe" grilling at the hands of MEPs were given new life today when a senior editor of Euractiv.com raised a serious allegation on Borg's alleged relations with former Kazakh diplomat Rakhat Aliyev (pictured below), the multi-millionaire exile being investigated on a double-murder by Austrian prosecutors.

The journalist at the European Commission's midday press briefing today asked the EC's spokesperson whether she was aware that "prominent MEPs" were investigating allegations concerning Tonio Borg and "the fact that he has allegedly received a €150,000 bribe from a gentleman from Kazakhstan, Rakhat Aliyev, for him to obtain a residence permit."

The allegation, a serious one to be made in the setting of the Commission's press corps, was news to the commission's spokesperson, who on her part said she was unable to comment on the query. "I have nothing to comment on this since what you're telling me is news."

On his part, Borg denounced the question as a "gross calumny and a lie", defending his record as a politician of integrity. "If this is the level we have gone down to in the run-up to my hearing before MEPs, then we are really scraping the barrel," Borg said, audibly irked at the allegation.

Borg's political run-in with Rakhat Aliyev is set to take some form of centre-stage during his interview by MEPs to become Commissioner for health and consumer policy, according to Germany's EU news service euractiv.de:

"Borg should expect questions on the personal role of the foreign minister with the generous provision of a residence permit for wealthy immigrants... Eurojust, the European Parliament and the European Commission have already dealt with the case of Rakhat Aliyev, who faces serious human rights violations and torture claims, and is suspected of the murder of two bankers and suspected in several European countries of money laundering."

A lawsuit instituted by Aliyev's wife Elnara Shorazova against her former lawyer, Pio Valletta was later followed with a counter-claim by Valletta against Shorazova and Aliyev - who in Malta went by the surname of Shoraz - demanding that he be paid €1.5 million for the services he rendered to the couple when they moved to Malta from Austria in 2010.

In August 2012, MaltaToday reported that a civil court case filed by the Aliyev family's former lawyer, Pio Valletta, revealed that he had obtained or at least endeavoured to secure 'permanent residence status' in 2010, under special tax exile rules for foreigners who purchase property over the value of €116,000.

Although the case is now being settled outside the court of laws, witnesses brought by Valletta included Borg himself, his spokesperson Melvyn Mangion, former minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici, and assistant police commissioner Andrew Seychell.

Valletta was initially sued by Elnara Shorazova over a €2.4 million banking transfer he was asked to organise from Austria to an account at Bank of Valletta. The Aliyevs contested Valletta's pretension to a €1.5 million fee. In his counter-claim, Valletta said Shorazova's Austrian lawyers had asked him to assist in procuring residence status for Aliyev "due to difficulties related to his political past".

As details revealed by Valletta confirm, obtaining permanent residence status for Aliyev was no mean feat: his application ran into trouble when police flagged the former diplomat on account of an Interpol alert that had been issued against Aliyev. In the list of services he rendered to the couple, Valletta demanded €150,000 because of the "difficulties" he encountered in procuring the permanent residence status, "due to the non-approval from the police authorities" on account of the Interpol alert.

Aliyev, formerly the son-in-law of Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev, lives in self-imposed exile in Malta after having been stripped of his position and immunity in Austria in 2007, when he was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison by a Kazakh court, on charges of kidnapping bankers Zholdas Temiraliev and Aybar Khasenov.

Aliyev denies the charges and claims he is a victim of the politically repressive state led by the oligarchs that form Nazarbayev's inner clan.

Ever since rejecting his extradition to Kazakhstan in 2007, Viennese prosecutors have carried out criminal investigations for money laundering and kidnapping. Austrian prosecutor Bettina Wallner questioned Aliyev at the Maltese courts for three days in April 2012 over the bankers' murder investigation. The Interpol alert has since then been repealed.

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@Better Future: The reason why I focused my attack on the LP is because everyone knows the PN has no intention of tackling institutional inequality and is married to its own bigotry. In the eyes of social Liberals, the PN is as relevant as a dead dodo. The PL on the other hand aspires to be the party of choice for progressives and liberals. By endorsing Someone with Borg's dubious values and track record, the PL showeed that it values equality below political expedience thus relinquishing all claims to being the party to pick if you value social progress. The PL has lost a lot of credibility in the eyes of liberals for this mistake. The PN on the other hand doesn't even register on the Richter scale of credibility and will soon be confined to the history books of the 21st century. Unless the PL can demonstrate that it really values the progressive agenda, its term in office might be even shorter than Gonzi's PN. You might say 'give them a chance'. I'll tell you they will get the chance, but they'd better know that the standards people expect from the LP this time round will be much much higher than ever before. And they'd best be prepared for that expectation from the word go. It won't be an easy ride, and when the going gets tough, the only thing a party can rely on to keep it going is its core values, which in this instance, the PL fell short of.
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There is an english saying which says - "What's good for the goose is good for the gander" - if Mr Dalli had to quit for a simple unprooved rubbished evidence, then Mr Borg has to quit his aspirations of becoming Commissioner. I have nothing against Dalli or Brog but if Mr Borg persists in his aspirations, then it's a case of two weights and two measures - to note Mr Barroso ! By the way you (Mr Barroso) having so far not taken action has already thrown you in a hell of a mess - you have already shown how baised you have been against Mr Dalli, how poor you are in decision making, and how theatrical the EU has been so far.
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A quick explanation as to how and why a residence permit was granted to a non-European Kazakh billionaire Rakhat Aliyev should put matters to rest. I wont hold my breath.
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Political corruption fallout seems to have taken over GonziPN. And there appears that there is no end to it. The problem is that this fallout is damaging our European image....by the same people that preached democracy, clean government, and European what not! We have to wait and see, and the impression of the people that they are paying taxes to be squandered in corruption by GonziPN is predominant
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what about going against the ppl s will in divorce vote in Parlament what about the gay ppl what about lying about Justyne in the bwsc vote in Parlament Honestly I think that there was better ppl to be choosen.....
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@ ExPatriatus What a ridiculous conclusion! So the Deputy PN leader and Deputy PM in a PN Government gets nominated by his own Nationalist Party, who should know him very, very well, and should know about all alleged accusations in his regard. PL, for reasons of national continuity, accept this nomination,but do not show signs of being overjoyed. And you conclude that it is all PL's fault for this fiasco. Take off your blinkers, try again and this time exercise the Patria bit some more.
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This is a very shameful situation ,What has Gonzi and his party politician's done to our beautiful islands reputation .SHAME ,SHAME AND SHAME.We have become a corrupt society and a laughing stock to all of the European Nations.We need change and we need it now ?
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Maureen Attard
Kif kissirtuhulna partit. X'qed taghmlulu lil-partit taghna li darba kien tant glorjuz. Gibtuh partit bla sinsla. Nisthi kultant nghid li jien nazzjonalist illum. Hemmbzonn bidla radikali fit-tmexxija kollha tal-partit illum qabel ghada. Warbu intom il-qodma u ghatu cans lil dawk godda u aktar demokratici.
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Can we vilify the reputation of Malta further ? A bribe of 150,000 bribe and what are the local police doing ? He got the residency, so there already is a big part of the proof you need. PN has turned this country into one big sewer for international criminals - as long as they get their bribes and fees and PL are equal partners in this prostitution of this country.
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Din hi r-realta ta kif jaraw lil GonziPN barra minn Malta: mhux kif jipprovaw ipenguw l-kwadri in-Nazzjonalisti li hadu over l-PBS!
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Regardless of the outcome of this grilling, and regardless of the REAL motives to Labour endorsing Borg - the party has displayed a monumental error of judgement in supporting his nomination. Its claims to being progressive and/or Liberal have all but vanished into thin air as a result of that decision. The LP will need to look really hard into itself and work out why it chose expediency above convinction. Then it will need to make amends, in the form of committment to progress beyond simple rhetoric. Until then the LP and the PN will be seen as equally out of touch with liberal-minded people, and indeed their votes.
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Prosit Matthew. Another excellent article. The second investigative article in less than three days. No wonder your mobile won't stop ringing with pleas to dissuade you from coming out with the third.
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What are you all doing to our party and Malta.Why dont you leave John Dalli back as a commissioner.
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If what is being reported is true than Malta's reputation will go to the dogs.
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Tonio Borg il-maghzul tal-Prim Ministru.Ha naraw x'gej. Jiena nahseb li Dr Gonzi aktar ghandu chance jirbah is-super 5 milli tigih wahda tajba.
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BDISPJACIER NAJT li il European Commission QEDA TIMXI TWO WIEGHTS U TWO MEASURES GHALIEX MA IMXEWX LISTESS MAL MINISTRU BORG KIF IMXEW MA JOHN DALLI DAN IFFISER ILLI SUPPOST IL BOARD TA OLAF FI HDAN EU GHANDA TWAQQAF L,APPLIKAZZJONI TAL MINISTRU BORG WARA LI HARGU AKKUZI GRAVI KONTRA LISTESS MINISTRU BORG