Police yet to follow orders by Egrant inquiry magistrate
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Police yet to follow orders by Egrant inquiry magistrate

Magistrate's report had said a 'particular person' should face charges

The police are not yet known to have instituted criminal charges against “a particular person”, as instructed to do by the magistrate who conducted the Egrant inquiry, judging by information given in Parliament this week.

Magistrate Aaron Bugeja. Photo: Matthew MirabelliMagistrate Aaron Bugeja. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The matter was raised in a written parliamentary question Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi put to Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia.

Dr Azzopardi asked why the Police Commissioner had failed to follow the orders issued by Magistrate Aaron Bugeja to arraign and press “particular criminal charges” against “a particular person”. He noted that the Egrant inquiry was concluded on July 21, 2018.

The minister said the Police Commissioner was aware of the magistrate’s report. 

“The police are following all the conclusions, instructions and recommendations made by the inquiring magistrate in the same inquiry. I am informed that, at this stage, the police are not in a position to give more information on what they were asked to do by the magistrate so it would not prejudice its investigations,” Dr Farrugia replied in Parliament on Tuesday.

Court sources told Times of Malta that in his 1,500-page inquiry report, still unpublished, Dr Bugeja singled out “at least one of the main protagonists involved in the setting up of the secret [Egrant] Panama company” and instructed the police to issue criminal charges connected to perjury against the person.

Prime Minster Joseph Muscat had pledged that the inquiry report would be published in full although this has not yet materialised. 

So far, only 49 pages of the voluminous report have been released. The “main conclusions” were published by the Attorney General on the same day Dr Muscat gave a press conference on the findings.

Police are not in a position to give more information

Attorney General Peter Grech has declared his opposition to publication of the entire report, though he did hand over a copy to Dr Muscat who recently said he now preferred to await the decision by the court on a lawsuit filed by Opposition leader Adrian Delia demanding a copy of the report.

According to the published conclusions, the inquiring magistrate found no evidence linking the Prime Minister, his wife, Michelle, or their family to Egrant Inc. It is not known whether the report proper gives any indication of who owns Egrant.

Two secret companies opened on the same day as Egrant by the same intermediaries, Tillgate and Hearnville, belonged to the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi.

No arraignments are known to have been made so far as a result of the Egrant inquiry. 

Police sources told The Sunday Times of Malta last summer potential crimes from the report included forgery of official documents and perjury.

To publish or not to publish…

Prior to the news that the Egrant inquiry had been concluded, the Prime Minister insisted on various occasions he wanted the whole truth to come out and pledged that the entire report would be published once completed.

On July 20, 2018, Magistrate Aaron Bugeja concluded his inquiry and sent a copy of his 1,500-page-long report to the Attorney General as required by law.

Early the following day, the Attorney General called Justice Minister Owen Bonnici telling him that the inquiry report was on his desk and that he would be informing the public about its conclusion. 

The minister, in turn, informed the Prime Minister who instructed his lawyer, Paul Lia, to ask the Attorney General for a copy.

That same day, the Attorney General passed a copy of the entire report to Dr Lia. The copy was then handed over to the Prime Minister and the Justice Minister.

On July 22, the Attorney General’s office published a 49-page document containing the conclusions of the inquiry. Immediately afterwards, the Prime Minister addressed a press conference saying the inquiry found that Egrant did not belong to either him or his wife. He reiterated his intention of publishing the report.

A week later, a spokesman for the Office of the Prime Minister told The Sunday Times of Malta the report would be released in “a matter of days” because government officials and lawyers were redacting the document to make sure no third party names or anything that could prejudice further investigations were published.

On October 26, 2018, following a court case filed by the Opposition demanding the release of the report, the Prime Minster insisted he was still in favour of the publication of the full report.

However, he declared this would not be done until a decision was made by the court hearing the case instituted by the Opposition.

ivan.camilleri@timesofmalta.com

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