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  • Writer's pictureAndré Delicata

Joseph Muscat’s link to Azerbaijan

Disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was back in Baku, Azerbaijan last week for the second time in three months, The Shift News reported. Muscat’s taste in bedfellows is, as always, rather suspicious, and Muscat has long been conducting a sordid love affair with Azerbaijan.

According to the Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International, Azerbaijan is at the top of the pile when it comes to corruption. Human rights are trampled upon in Azerbaijan. Human Rights Watch issued a 2013 report accusing Azerbaijan of imprisoning and harassing political activists and human rights defenders, of systemic torture and ill-treatment of persons in custody, and of restrictions on media freedoms that include spying on journalists.

Joseph Muscat’s (known) links to Azerbaijan kicked off in December 2014, when he, his chief of staff Keith Schembri and then Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi paid a furtive visit to Baku. The visit was shrouded in secrecy, with the press neither invited nor informed. During this trip a fuel hedging agreement was signed with SOCAR – the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic – that resulted in the loss of millions to the taxpayer according to an investigation by The Guardian. The contract was deemed to be highly suspect by the FIAU for a number of reasons, and was also slammed by the National Audit Office (NAO).

Moreover, there is evidence that the opaque company 17 Black (belonging to the alleged mastermind behind Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination Yorgen Fenech) received money originating from the “Azerbaijani Laundromat”, a network of shell companies used to embezzle public funds out of Azerbaijan and pay bribes around the world.

17 Black was the vehicle to be used by Yorgen Fenech to pay millions every year to Muscat’s cronies, Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.

It’s also important to bear in mind that a few hours after Daphne Caruana Galizia broke the Egrant story, a mysterious flight left for Baku and then to Dubai. The Shift News revealed that the company operating the flight – VistaJet – was awarded a secret contract through which €4.5 million of taxpayer’s money was funnelled into it between 2016 and 2018.

Muscat’s link with Azerbaijan and his frequent visits to Baku are more than suspect – they stink to high heaven. They point to corruption, sleaze and all sorts of wrong-doing.

In the meantime, our Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa is having a siesta.

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