A new corruption scandal breaking in the small island country of Malta threatens to bring down the governing administration. This past Monday, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat called for special elections on June 3, 2017. The announcement comes after revelations that Muscat’s wife, Michelle, was behind a company that received over $1 million in payments from another shell company controlled by the president of Azerbaijan’s daughter. According to the report, a whistleblower in Malta’s Pilatus Bank brought the suspicious transfer to light.
The planned special election will not be official without the required approval of President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, who is widely expected to dissolve parliament at the Prime Minister’s request. In the same speech in which he announced the proposed special election, Muscat promised to immediately resign if any connection is found between the Mossack Fonseca document release—colloquially known as the Panama Papers—and either Muscat or his family. The company of which Michelle Muscat is allegedly a beneficial owner was one of the companies mentioned in the scandal that has already brought down Malta’s energy minister and the government’s chief of staff. A magisterial inquiry into the new allegations is already under way.
When announcing the special election, Muscat was quoted saying “Everybody knows about the attacks made in the past few days on me and my family. I have nothing to fear because truth is on my side and I am clean.”
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