US financial crime blogger Kenneth Rijock has dismissed Joseph Muscat’s recent swipe at his credibility, accusing the former Maltese Prime Minister of splitting hairs, shooting the messenger and uttering falsehoods about his own legal history.
“I’m not in a position to disclose my sources to Joseph Muscat but I’m sure his lawyers have a pretty good idea of what’s going on,” Rijock, a former-money-launderer-turned-FBI informant told Lovin Malta.
“If Muscat doesn’t believe me, he’ll believe me when he gets arrested and then everyone in Malta will believe me. He’s a discredited government official, his chief of staff was arrested, he’s been implicated in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and he won’t answer any questions about his overseas trips.”
This week, Rijock claimed that Muscat is being criminally investigated by Italy’s Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) over financial transactions conducted by him and his “criminal associates” inside Italy. He said two other Western European countries, as well as the United States, have also launched investigations into alleged money laundering involving Muscat.
Muscat retorted by arguing that criminal investigations aren’t carried out by the UIF but by different entities, ostensibly a reference to the Guardia di Finanza.
“Such an oversight might be forgiven to an unrefined outsider, but not to someone who claims to be an expert and to have been given this information from within the same authority,” he said.
However, Rijock insisted his sources were accurate, noting the UIF gathers financial intelligence ahead of possible transmission to law enforcement bodies, a similar role to that played by Malta’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU).
“Joseph Muscat isn’t a lawyer and doesn’t have an understanding of the legal system; maybe someone should teach him that investigations take place before arrests. He’s trying to split hairs here.”
He warned that Muscat is trying to shoot the messenger, “a tactic he used on Caruana Galizia, certain people within the Nationalist Party”.
“Why wouldn’t he use the same tactic on the person with the information? He hasn’t responded to anything I said in detail; he just said it’s not true. He won’t know if it’s true or not because pending criminal investigations are restricted but I’m fortunate enough to have contacts in law enforcement who have anonymously shared this information with me.”
Rijock also hit out at Muscat for his statement that he [Rijock] “lost innumerable libel suits because he simply made up stuff”.
“I’ve written over 10,000 articles in the past 15 years and obviously suits have been filed against me but they’ve all been settled and I never had to pay a dime. Some settlements involved me retracting articles, because occasionally the information you get from a source doesn’t pan out. We’re talking about a very small number though; fewer articles have been removed then there are fingers on your hands.”
Asked whether his report on Muscat could be one of those cases, Rijock confidently stated that his information is “extremely reliable”.
“You’re going to have to wait to see how this plays out, and if Joseph Muscat doesn’t believe me, he’ll just have to wait and see which government will arrest him first.”
Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri and the US Embassy have refused to comment on Rijock’s claims that the FBI have sent agents to Malta to investigate this alleged case.
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