Maltese PM says name cleared in Panama Papers probe

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat speaks to media after the informal meeting on migration and asylum issues in Brussels, Belgium, 24 June 2018. [Julien Warnand/EPA/EFE]

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said Sunday (22 July) a year-long inquiry into allegations of financial wrongdoing linked to the Panama Papers scandal had cleared him.

Muscat called a snap election last year — which he won comfortably — after he and his entourage, including his wife Michelle, were accused of owning a company mentioned in the papers.

Snap elections over Panama Papers scandal shake up Malta’s EU presidency

Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat yesterday (1 May) called a snap general election for 3 June, bowing to pressure over his family being embroiled in the Panama Papers scandal. Malta is holding the rotating presidency of the EU until 1 July when Estonia will take over.

“Today, justice has been served,” a visibly emotional Muscat told a press conference.

He said a judicial investigation running to 1,500 pages showed former opposition leader “Simon Busuttil has thrived on a lie in a bid to win power.”

And Muscat said that “the only honourable thing for (Busuttil) to do is resign from all his positions, including as MP.”

The year-long probe was conducted by judge Aaron Bugeja and its conclusions were published a day after the report had been passed on to the attorney general.

The inquiry also did not find any evidence that Muscat, his wife, his close aide Keith Schembri, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, or former European Commissioner John Dalli were involved in money laundering or suspicious financial transactions involving holders of bank accounts in Azerbaijan via Pilatus Bank.

Sole EU minister named in Panama Papers is Malta’s Konrad Mizzi

Maltese journalists and bloggers have found that the only minister from an EU member state identified in the Panama papers of clients of tax evasion schemes is Malta’s Health and Energy Minister, Konrad Mizzi.

The allegations had been made on the blog of slain investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, killed by a car bomb last year.

Maltese police arrest ten suspects in murder of anti-graft journalist

Maltese police have arrested ten suspects in the murder of anti-corruption blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Monday (4 December), after an EU delegation left the island last week saying there were serious concerns about the rule of law there.

After winning the election, Muscat had promised to resign if the probe showed there was an “ounce of truth” in the allegations.

Malta’s financial services watchdog froze the assets of Pilatus Bank and removed the bank’s chairman Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad in March, three months after three people were charged in connection with Caruana Galizia’s death.

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