Bitcoin, murder and mafia on “Blockchain Island” Malta

Shouts of “mafia state,” and “murderers” echoed in the streets of Malta’s capital Valletta this week. The protests and international scrutiny put intense pressure on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to resign last night over a national scandal: the unsolved murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, at a gaming conference nearby, self-proclaimed Bitcoin inventor Craig Wright was preaching the gospel of cryptocurrency and its ability to counter fraud—without a word about what was unfolding only miles away. Irony was also shockingly absent.

Caruana Galizia was assassinated two years ago. She was blown up in her car, having for years made it her mission to expose the corruption dogging Malta, corroding its institutions and threatening to spread through the rest of the European Union. 

The question that’s gripped Malta is: who ordered her killing?

The main suspect in the case is prominent businessman Yorgen Fenech, arrested on November 20 while trying to flee Malta on his luxury yacht. Fenech was on the board of ElectroGas, Malta’s energy supplier. The company was to be the subject of Caruana Galizia’s next exposé, before she was brutally silenced.

Just a few days after Fenech’s dramatic arrest, new evidence emerged that put the spotlight on government ministers Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri. Both resigned, were questioned by police and deny wrongdoing. Schembri is believed to be especially close to the Prime Minister, who is now facing renewed calls for his resignation.

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Early on Friday, Muscat’s cabinet turned down Fenech’s request for a pardon in return for information about his alleged conspirators, and he was released on police bail.

The Bitcoin connection

In a blog post, Caruana Galizia’s son, Paul, said his mother had been investigating possible links between Fenech, the two politicians and a gas-supply agreement…

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