2018 has been an interesting year full of scandal, spin, and political games, there has not been much in the way of conclusive answers. With more and more evidence coming to light that implicates members of the government in illicit and illegal activities, we anticipated closure on many issues this year, but sadly this was not to be.
As we move into 2019, these are the answers we are hoping for to the things they want you to forget about.
The Publication of the FULL Egrant Inquiry
Back in July 2018, the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat issued a statement that the Egrant inquiry was being “thoroughly analysed” and that the review process was expected to take another few days with publication taking place as early as possible.
That was six months ago and no publication of the report has been forthcoming, leading many to believe that it will be never be published and that Muscat hopes we will all forget about it.
With energy minister Konrad Mizzi believing that the outcome of the report exonerates him and Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri from any wrongdoing, and the general spin from Castille being that it unequivocally proves that the Prime Minister and his wife are innocent, it is not hard to understand why certain people might believe that such a document would be better buried.
As well as getting to the bottom of who owns the mysterious Egrant company, in 2019 we would love to see the inquiry published in full, ideally with as little redaction as possible.
Who killed Daphne?
The Maltese government have been under mounting pressure both locally and internationally to open a public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. The ECPMF, PEN International, Reporters San Frontiers, 24 other press organisations, international and local lawyers, local journalists, this website, and her family have all publicly called on the PM to launch such an inquiry, a request that has been refused as recently as this month, December.
There is no logical reason for an inquiry to be refused and if the government are as dead-set on bringing the orchestrators of her brutal murder to justice, surely they would be keen to not leave any stone unturned.
Who owns MacBridge?
Whilst 2018 was the year that saw the owner of 17 Black come to light (Yorgen Fenech, owner of Tumas Group and member of the Electrogas Consortium), the matter of who owns Macbridge has been somewhat ignored. Macbridge was named in an email sent by Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi’s accountants, as a company that would fund their Panama companies with large sums of unexplained money.
There is no doubt that both Schembri and Mizzi know exactly who owns MacBridge, it would also be astute to assume that the goons over at Nexia BT also know who owns MacBridge, one could even go as far as to say that Joseph Muscat himself probably has a very good idea who owns MacBridge (and Egrant for that matter) but yet two years after the Panama Paper leaks, we are still none the wiser.
Conclusion of the Pending Inquiry into Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi
After the Panama Papers leaks in 2016, both Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi were found to own offshore companies that were set up in great haste in 2013, just days after the Labour came to power. It was further discovered that these companies were set to receive millions in unexplained funds from MacBridge and 17 Black and whilst both men claimed they did not do anything wrong, very little action has been taken against them.
Whilst they both retain their positions at the helm of government, neither have undergone any criminal investigation and the inquiry into their behaviour has been stalled repeatedly in what can only be described as a deliberate effort to delay the proceedings.
This year, we would love to see a conclusion to the inquiry as well as a full and impartial criminal investigation into the actions of both individuals. Unfortunately, given the lack of cooperation from all involved, we suspect that we could be hoping for the same thing at the end of 2019 as well.
Conclusion of the Pending Inquiry into Adrian Hillman
Adrian Hillman was named in an FIAU report as the recipient of payments made by Keith Schembri and companies owned by Keith Schembri. The report stated that Hillman was the UBO of Lester Holdings Group Limited that received large sums of money from the Chief of Staff, and concluded that there was a “reasonable suspicion of money laundering”.
With no purpose or justification for such payments that totalled in excess of half a million Euros, the FIAU requested action but of course, nothing happened. As a result, former opposition leader Simon Busuttil presented Magistrate Aaron Bugeja with a number of files providing proof of the transactions and alleged wrongdoing. An inquiry was opened which Hillman deliberately stagnated through appeals before complaining that the inquiry was making his life difficult.
As of the time of writing, there have been no significant developments in the inquiry except for the news that Hillman is on the OPM payroll to the tune of €4,000 a month for “consultancy” services to the Malta Gaming Authority.
What happened to Mike Mansholt?
In 2016, German teenager Mike Mansholt was found dead at the bottom of Dingli Cliffs, Malta. Whilst it was claimed that he had fallen to his death whilst riding his bike, the real cause of death was never established and a number of irregularities in the circumstances that would suggest foul play, were ignored.
Furthermore, the father of the boy claims a German doctor told him that his sons injuries were not consistent with a fall, nor was the damage to his bike. In addition to this, the teenagers phone, wallet, Go-Pro, and backpack were never found, but there was something else even more sinister that had been taken.
After the body was flown back to Germany, a second autopsy was undertaken and officials found that most of the boys internal organs were missing. A Maltese medico-legal expert stated that the organs had been eaten by rodents, despite no evidence to support such a claim, and all further requests for information had been ignored.
The case was reopened in April 2018, but it reached the same conclusion- that Mike probably died from a fall- whilst providing no further evidence and ignoring evidence that would suggest otherwise, the Mansholt family are still looking for answers, and their son’s organs.
What was Neville Gafa REALLY doing in Libya?
Neville Gafa who was previously implicated in a Libyan visa racket, hit the headlines again in late 2018. This time it was for a visit to Libya on what Neville described as a “personal visit” where he met several high-ranking members of the Libyan government as they are all good friends. The Government added that Gafa had not been in the capacity of representing the Maltese Government and that he “took time off work and paid for the trip himself”.
Then a document leaked by Libyan journalists cast doubt on his claims as it clearly showed that Gafa was invited by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, stating an “official visit” to the closed Maltese embassy for the duration of one month. Citizens entering Libya would require an invitation, but anyone on a personal visit would not have an “urgent” invitation from a member of the government, a point that was later clarified by the Libyan Interior Ministry.
It then came to light that Gafa’ met with Haithem Tajouri in Tripoli, after “stumbling into him” on the streets. Tajouri is the leader of a Tripoli-based militia that has also been accused of financial fraud, extortion, torture, murder, human rights infringements, and being a warlord. One has to wonder what exactly they spoke about during their apparently accidental meeting, and whether it had anything to do with Gafa’s “personal” trip to Libya.