Crystal Palace FC deal Joseph Muscat was involved in under FA scrutiny

A failed bid to purchase Crystal Palace FC that had seen the involvement of former prime minister Joseph Muscat is being investigated by the English Football Association, according to an exclusive carried by the Daily Mail today.

The probe relates to the involvement of FA board member Rupinder Bains and her role in the failed takeover bid for Crystal Palace in 2020 without the FA’s knowledge.

Bains worked for a Cayman Island-based firm that was involved in the failed takeover of the club in 2020, in which a consortium came close to signing the deal.

Muscat and Wasay Bhatti of Swiss payroll firm Accutor, who was paying Muscat €15,000 a month, were involved.

Accutor was responsible for funnelling funds from the Vitals Global Healthcare hospitals concession to shareholders and others, as reported in-depth recently in a recent joint investigation undertaken by The Shift, The Times of Malta and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

The Crystal Palace deal, purportedly worth GBP185 million, had been close to being signed before it fell through.

Several red flags had been raised on Bhatti’s offer over what were suspected to be fake financials.

Acquisition documents supplied to the investigation showed the role of a UK law firm and even a bank that made a credit facility for the deal possible. The acquisition appears to have involved a financial structure with substantially higher fees than usual.

Bhatti denied any knowledge of bogus financial accounting but confirmed that Muscat was his partner on the deal. Rupinder Bains’ involvement in the affair is a new aspect.

Bhatti also denied that any documents produced for the deal had been fraudulent and insisted that ‘his enemies’ had tried to smear him in a number of ways and that he was a victim of fraud.

Muscat, meanwhile, had told the investigation that he was only “involved towards the end of the deal with Crystal Palace as it fell through”.

“I was asked to monitor the situation, on Bhatti’s behalf, about his interest in a group involved in takeovers within the football industry.”

He insisted he knew nothing of the red flags raised and the fact that he consulted on the Crystal Palace deal was proof that he actually did some work for Bhatti and that his contract was a legitimate one and not a mere kickback vehicle.

Bains, on her part, was an FA board member but she had not disclosed her involvement to English football’s governing body as she thought such a disclosure had been unnecessary.

An FA spokesperson told the Daily Mail that the governing body was “deeply concerned” about the development and that it was investigating the circumstances.

Another member of the consortium was Benjamin Leigh Hunt, who had reportedly been given access to Crystal Palace’s accounts and senior directors – including the club’s chairman Steve Parish – to prepare a bid for the club, according to leaked documents obtained by the Daily Mail.

Leigh Hunt owned a cryptocurrency firm – the London Football Exchange – that was slapped with a freezing order later in 2020 over suspected investment fraud. The firm folded shortly after the freezing order.

Leigh Hunt was reportedly working alongside Bhatti, who, in turn, had employed and brought Muscat into the deal.

According to the Daily Mail, discussions had also taken place about junior Maltese footballers getting experience at the club if the deal had been successful, as well as a partnership between Crystal Palace and the crypto firm.

The head of that firm at the time was Jim Aylward, who served 22 months in 2010 for fraud and previously served time for robbery and assault. He is named Leigh Hunt’s co-defendant in the freezing injunction against LFE at the High Court in 2020.

Bains had been brought into the deal before Muscat, in November 2019, and, like Muscat, she was paid directly by Bhatti to carry out further due diligence and, it is believed, having an FA board member aboard gave Bhatti’s pitch an added layer of authenticity.

Muscat’s contract the Swiss company suspected of funnelling public funds back to the investors behind the Vitals Healthcare Group is, meanwhile, being investigated locally.

The contract was to earn Muscat €15,000 a month for three years and was to be automatically renewed for another three years before it was brought to a sudden halt after just four monthly payments when Accutor went into liquidation and out of business.

The monthly payments began in the summer of 2020 and stopped after four instalments worth €60,000, after which the company filed for bankruptcy. It eventually went into liquidation in September 2020.

Just two months after stepping down as prime minister, Muscat received the first of the four €15,000 payments spread over the four months between March and June 2020 from Bhatti’s companies.

Muscat said he had been introduced to Bhatti “years back” by his former chief of staff Keith Schembri, and that Bhatti got in touch with him “after I announced my resignation”.

The Daily Mail reports a Crystal Palace source saying that after due diligence, it was decided the proposed buyers were not suitable custodians of the club and insisted the club had nothing to do with either Bhatti or Leigh Hunt.

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3 months ago

Kollox nadif crystal ghandu Muscat… mill-Crystal Finance sal-Crystal Palace.

Toni Borg
Toni Borg
3 months ago

Every where this guy touches is tainted with filth and corruption!

one day the long arm of tge law will hopefully nab hin!

Joe l ghasfur
Joe l ghasfur
3 months ago

Dal miserabli Muscat mal ewwel jum fil poter bdit tokorni ghajni. Tafu x’kienet lewwel decisjoni tieghu , li jikri l karroza tieghu lillu inifsu ghal ma nafx kemm kuljum. Timaginaw xi Macron,Meloni,Tsunak jew Biden jaghmel dil hnizrija. Ghalih qisu ma ghamel xejn hazin, bhal ma ghamel xejn hazin f’kull proget li spicca fi tbazwira.
Veru wiccu u sormu l istess u ma jafx jisthi dal miserabli.
Prim ministru ma jghdlekx mur israq ahxi u bazwar, izda jekk itik ezempju hazin ta tahtu x’tahsbu li jaghmlu?

Albert Beliard
Albert Beliard
3 months ago

“Bhatti also denied that any documents produced for the deal had been fraudulent and insisted that ‘his enemies’ had tried to smear him in a number of ways and that he was a victim of fraud.”

‘His enemies’??? Maybe ghost Shaukat Ali’s partner in crime/fraud from VGH Europe Ram Tumuluri comes to his mind, since Bhatti is Pakistani and Tumuluri is from India.

Mafia criminal Joseph Muscat is going to get a ‘red card’ and then be sent to jail with a few extra years.

Albert Mamo
Albert Mamo
3 months ago


3 months ago

Everything this shady character is involved in gets to investigated. Sadly this guy is too shrewd to get himself prosecuted and on this island he’s got too much protection!!

3 months ago

Anything and everything this guy is involved in stink of sleaze and corruption but he’s as slippery as the other guy Teflon Johnnie Cash!

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