Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has claimed not to know who owns Macbridge, the second company named alongside 17 Black in a leaked e-mail discussing plans to deposit up to $2 million into offshore structures owned by his chief of staff Keith Schembri.
“I have no idea. You should ask the owner or whoever has that information,” Dr Muscat said when pressed.
According to the leaked e-mail, Macbridge is registered in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a notoriously secretive jurisdiction that is usually reluctant to cooperate with international requests for information from law enforcement bodies.
The Egrant inquiry failed to get answers from the UAE about the Panama companies owned by Mr Schembri, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and the mystery company Egrant.
Mr Schembri had said in an official government statement that he had draft business plans with both the UAE-registered 17 Black and Macbridge.
When it was pointed out that Mr Schembri would know who owns Macbridge, the Prime Minister said he believed his chief of staff had been asked about this during an inquiry, and had given all the necessary answers.
The e-mail about 17 Black and Macbridge was sent by Nexia BT, who besides being auditors and financial advisors to Mr Schembri, have also been handed numerous consultancy contracts by Dr Muscat's office.
Muscat on Yorgen Fenech
Asked if he was surprised power station investor Yorgen Fenech owns 17 Black, Dr Muscat said: "Yes, if it is so...I don't know who owns it".
He said Mr Schembri was answering all questions being put to him about 17 Black in an ongoing magisterial inquiry.
What's today's date? I think it was a year ago- Joseph Muscat
Questioned about his own reluctance to speak about 17 Black, the Prime Minister said it was not his policy to comment about inquiries.
Mr Schembri on Monday dropped a libel case he had filed against former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil just minutes after he was forced to testify and answer questions about his plans with 17 Black and Macbridge.
On Yorgen Fenech, Dr Muscat initially said he last met the businessman a year ago.
"I'm not sure. Or two years ago. What's today's date? I think it was a year ago... like I meet all people in business. I meet everyone", Dr Muscat said.
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