Maltese government reputation laundering aide escapes US extradition

Former espionage expert, consultant, and indirect reputation launderer for disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat and the Maltese government, Frank Schneider, has escaped from house arrest in France.

He has in the process evaded extradition to the US where he was to face charges for aiding ‘cryptoqueen’ Ruja Ignatova in the €4 billion OneCoin cryptocurrency scam.

Schneider, whose company Sandstone was hired by UK PR firm Chelgate and the Maltese government to produce a misleading report on the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination, was facing a maximum of 40 years in a US prison on fraud and money laundering charges.

‘Cryptoqueen’ Ignatova was no stranger to Maltese shores either, having been company shopping in Malta before later making use of Maltese-registered iGaming companies to move around large sums of money as part of her OneCoin scam.

She disappeared in 2017 after boarding a flight to Athens having defrauded investors out of €4 billion. Schneider worked as an advisor for Ignatova and served seven months in a French prison after being arrested in April 2021 and was subsequently released under house arrest.

Ignatova’s OneCoin cryptocurrency scam ran between 2014 and 2016. It tricked customers into investing by simulating crypto transactions to give the impression that OneCoin worked like any other cryptocurrency platform, when purchasers were not in fact buying anything.

The BBC reports how the former cryptoqueen’s “troubleshooter” could not be located after a fresh warrant for his arrest from Nancy, France’s court of appeal was issued with Schneider having evaded his ankle-tag-enabled electronic surveillance.

Speaking to the BBC in the months before his arrest, Schneider had claimed he would not be given a fair trial in the US, given the country’s plea-bargaining court system, which he said presumed his guilt. Schneider also maintained he had no criminal involvement with Ignatova, and denied supplying her with confidential police information.

After consulting for Ignatova, who remains wanted by the US FBI under a $250,000 bounty, Schneider went on to write a report through his company Sandstone, commissioned by former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s emergency PR firm, on the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination.

In 2019 the EUobserver leaked parts of the report, which was intended to misdirect and disinform, saying there was reason to believe the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and the President of Russia Vladimir Putin had conspired to assassinate the journalist, by way of a Chechen assassin.

Ironically, Muscat remains close with the report’s scapegoat, Azerbaijani president Aliyev, and is a member of his Nizami Ganjavi ‘think thank’ to this day.

Schneider’s Sandstone report on Caruana Galizia was commissioned by Muscat’s government through UK public relations consultancy firm Chelgate. Muscat made increasing use of Chelgate’s services, specialising in reputation laundering, crisis management and whitewashing, since he first took the helm in 2013.

Following their revelatory article, Schnieder filed a criminal libel case against the EUobserver in Luxembourg courts, which threw out the case. The move was widely condemned by multiple press freedom organisations, who labelled it nothing more than a SLAPP suit intended to silence the publisher.

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3 months ago

Where ever Muscat’s name is mentioned it is directly connected to (yet another) scandal.

Francis Said
Francis Said
3 months ago

Malta is gaining the No. 1 spot in attracting the most unsavoury characters.
The best in the EU or the World!!!

Last edited 3 months ago by Francis Said
A. Fan
A. Fan
3 months ago

Yet another native son making Malta proud… As if any more were needed. Due respect to the Luxembourg courts for their rectitude!

3 months ago

jmuscat’s name can be found in any scandal in Malta and abroad. shame on you jos – you have managed to destroy Malta’s image within nine years of your corrupt administration and the Maltese in general are paying for it.

3 months ago

Somebody helped him out. Was it the KGB?

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