Transcripts of documents connecting Panama company Egrant to Michelle Muscat contained errors proving they were falsified, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told Opposition leader Simon Busuttil last night.
Speaking during a live debate on TV show Xarabank, Dr Muscat argued that an address and date on transcripts of declarations of trust published by Daphne Caruana Galizia did not tally with facts.
Dr Muscat claimed that Egrant could not have a Maltese address as listed in Ms Caruana Galizia's document transcript, and that the declaration of trust's 2015 date could not be reconciled with the 2013 certificate of ownership Nexia BT managing partner Brian Tonna possessed.
"This is a certificate showing that Egrant was sold to Brian Tonna in 2013," he said as he held up a paper and faced the camera. "According to Caruana Galizia, these same people who sold it to Brian Tonna in 2013 sold it again to my wife two years later."
Dr Muscat's claim deriding Egrant's address as fake was immediately cast into doubt by Ms Caruana Galizia, who noted that the San Gwann address on the transcript tallied with that provided for Egrant in the ICIJ Panama Papers database.
Barbs, denials, but not much light
The two-hour debate saw Dr Muscat and Dr Busuttil trade barbs, insults and mutual disdain for one another, punctuated by a half-hearted agreement between the two to keep family members out of the political morass "until the general election".
At the end of it all, viewers were left none the wiser about the allegations, with one man strenuously denying them and the other insisting they must be true.
Dr Busuttil hammered home his incredulity at the manner in which the Prime Minister and police force had dallied last night before appointing an investigation, with the risk of evidence having been destroyed in the meantime. Police eventually visited Pilatus Bank's offices at around 9am on Friday morning.
Moderator Peppi Azzopardi pressed the Prime Minister to explain the delay, but Dr Muscat's reply - that he had other engagements and had to speak with his lawyers - came across as half-hearted at best.
As the Prime Minister challenging him to provide evidence for his allegations, Dr Busuttil taunted him that "you cannot be believed because you always lie, so now nobody believes you."
Dr Muscat hit back by arguing that talk of evidence having been destroyed was a red herring.
"You cannot destroy records of an electronic bank transfer. There's a record of such transfers at each step of the transaction," he said.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that Ms Caruana Galizia had gained credibility through her Panama Papers revelations, but argued that she was now riding on the coattails of that success to trick people this time round. "winning the lotto this week doesn't mean you're going to win it the next.
"Winning the lotto this week doesn't mean you're going to win it the next," he said.
The below is a transcript of our live blog of the event.
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