PN MP Jason Azzopardi stated that Swiss firm Accutor, who engaged Joseph Muscat as a consultant, paid for a trip for the former prime minister as he took off to Turkey. This preceded a series of flights he took right before Malta closed its airport in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the 19th of February 2020, Azzopardi had stated that Muscat had flown to Pakistan ten days earlier than his air ticket was purchased by a third party. On the 17th March, Azzopardi added that the former prime minister was about to return to Malta from a London flight and that people shouldn’t forget how he had travelled to Zurich, London, Pakistan and Miami in the span of four weeks.
He reminded everyone of these two posts and how he had predicted that Prime Minister Robert Abela will announce a lockdown following this. The lockdown was indeed announced a day later. Azzopardi now revealed that Muscat’s Turkish Airlines flight ticket was paid by credit card from someone with email account [email protected]
Times of Malta reported that the former prime minister was paid €60,000 from Accutor and Spring X Media, two Swiss companies owned by Pakistani lawyer Wasay Bhatti, in the early months of 2020, shortly after his resignation as Prime Minister.
Muscat was allegedly wired tens of thousands of euros in consultancy fees, with the Swiss company receiving millions from Steward Healthcare during the firm’s takeover of the VGH hospitals deal.
Joseph Muscat posted a response following this news in two separate posts. He said that while he is not aware that Times of Malta ever asked other Prime Ministers or other ministers about work and roles taken up after stepping down or ‘what contracts and consultancies their children and offices landed’, he expressed not having qualms in replying if in the public interest.
‘Nevertheless, the headline does not say I carried out work for this company, as they know I did, but rather that I was wired money. It implies I was given money for nothing or as supposed compensation for a transaction worth millions. The payments I received for assignments carried out over a number of months are nowhere near these amounts. But whoever gleams the headline is left unaware of this.’
‘The work I carried out over a number of months was not in any way related to projects related to the Maltese Government. It was spread over a number of countries, in different sectors, and is fully documented. All work and payments are fully declared, not as in the case of those who tried to rush and regularise their position with the tax authorities overnight because they were entering politics. I also did not do like those who first negotiated on behalf of government on large scale deals, and then went to lead the entity on the other side of the table.’
‘There are some who will never forgive me for helping bring about change in the country. They believe that I do not even have the right to work. But the more they insist, the more it is clear that these people still cannot offer an alternative for the country’ he concluded.
A later post, directed at the Opposition leader, stated that Muscat did not do any work related to Malta and the company that leads hospitals. He said he was paid for the work he did abroad and that he declared such work and paid taxes.
‘If he wishes, he can look for a list of his own friends who did work after they finished their roles as ministers and as they occupied seats in parliament. I have nothing to hide’ he concluded.