Police yesterday set the ball rolling on what will likely be a “long” investigation into the alleged forgery of documents linking the Prime Minister’s wife to an offshore company.
Sources yesterday told the Times of Malta that the full 1,500-page magisterial inquiry had been handed over to the police and was being analysed by investigators.
“This is a long report, with a lot of detail. First, it needs to be analysed thoroughly, and then a probe over and above that can begin,” one senior investigator said.
The main conclusions of the inquiry, conducted by Magistrate Aaron Bugeja, were published by the Attorney General on Sunday morning. The magistrate had been asked by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to look into allegations that his wife, Michelle, owned the once-secret offshore company Egrant Inc.
The contentious claim was made by late journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on her blog Running Commentary in April 2017.
This is a long report, with a lot of detail
Ms Caruana Galizia had also claimed in a subsequent blog post that Ms Muscat’s company had received a one-time $1.07 million payment via a Pilatus Bank account from Leyla Aliyeva, daughter of Ilham Aliyev, ruler of Azerbaijan.
The allegations started a chain reaction that eventually saw Dr Muscat calling an early election.
The conclusions of Dr Bugeja’s inquiry spell out in 49 pages how international experts found no trace of the company being linked to Ms Muscat. The magistrate also raised concerns in his inquiry report over contradictions between the versions of events given by Ms Caruana Galizia, her source – former Pilatus Bank employee Maria Efimova – and Pierre Portelli, the Nationalist Party’s head of media, who at the time was the content and business director of The Malta Independent.
The inquiry also established that the copies of the Egrant documents passed on by Mr Portelli had been falsified but was unable to establish who had done so and for what reasons. The forged signatures on the document were analysed by a British forensic accounting firm, with the person whose signature was on the declarations, Jaqueline Alexander, also taking an oath stating that she had not drafted or signed any such documents.
Police sources yesterday held their cards close to their chests when asked what potential crimes were being looked into in their investigations.
While forgery of official documents with the intent of framing someone for a crime was described as a main area of interest, the sources also mentioned perjury as a possible offence worth investigating.
The sources made no reference to investigating any other politically exposed persons mentioned in the magistrate’s inquiry.
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