Repubblika files police report requesting investigation into Muscat payments
A civil society NGO has filed a police report requesting an investigation into former prime minister Joseph Muscat following reports linking him to consultancy services with a Swiss company. Repubblika president Robert Aquilina told reporters outside the Financial Crime Investigation Department on Tuesday that the organisation would not accept police “dragging their feet” on high-level government corruption. Times of Malta on Sunday revealed how Muscat was wired EUR60,000 in “consultancy fees” from a Swiss company which received millions from Steward Healthcare, the US company that has a concession to run three state hospitals.
The sum was paid to Muscat just a few months after his resignation. “We need to put a stop to the culture of impunity that Joseph Muscat is still benefiting from,” Aquilina said outside the Hamrun building. Referring to Times of Malta‘s report, Aquilina said two ex-directors of the Swiss company, Kamal Sharma and Tyrone Greenshields, have already said they are willing to cooperate with the authorities.
The group is calling on police to form a joint investigation team with their UK counterparts as the two former directors are domiciled there. Earlier on Tuesday, Times of Malta reported how police will not say whether they are investigating Muscat, citing article 87 of the Police Act. Sources have said the magistrate carrying out an inquiry into the hospitals’ deal is “looking into” the EUR60,000 “consultancy fees” that Muscat was paid.
The magistrate is being assisted by court experts and the police’s financial crimes investigations department.
Meanwhile, Aquilina said others also needed to be investigated. He said Repubblika were informed that alleged Daphne Caruana Galizia murder conspirator Yorgen Fenech had, prior to his arrest, corresponded with a number of high-ranking public officials who had all ingratiated themselves to him. These, he said, included Infrastructure Malta chief Fredrick Azzopardi, who at the time headed the state energy provider Enemalta, James Piscopo who at the time headed Transport Malta and was the former chief executive of the Labour Party, Johann Buttigieg who headed the Planning Authority, Joe Cuschieri the former financial regulator, and Heathcliff Farrugia who lead the gaming authority.
Aquilina said it was unacceptable that no action had yet been taken against any of these officials. “Are these people also untouchables? We need to put an end to this,” he said.
Aquilina said that towards the end of 2018 Fenech had lost his mobile phone while he was in the US. Repubblika is informed that once the business tycoon had purchased a new phone he messaged Joseph Muscat to assure him not to worry as he had already deleted their entire conversation before losing his phone. “One has to ask what was in these messages for him to feel the need to delete them?” Aquilina said. Fenech had also sent a similar message to former minister Konrad Mizzi, who Aquilina said had burst into a panic on learning that Fenech’s phone had been lost.
Aquilina said it was imperative that the police take action against the multiple cases of corruption involving Mizzi, Schembri, and Muscat.
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