Mark Camilleri is blowing the whistle on events involving murder and alleged corruption in Malta, and his claims are being published as NFTs.
In November 2019, Malta’s “Blockchain Island” dream was dashed amid street protests and calls for a “mafia state,” after top government officials were implicated in the death of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Following international condemnation, Malta was greylisted by the international financial crime watchdog FATF, as reports of corruption engulfed the Mediterranean island. Any hopes of becoming a trailblazing crypto jurisdiction vanished almost overnight, as blockchain companies fled the island in droves.
Former government official Mark Camilleri is now making broad allegations about the events surrounding Caruana Galizia’s murder. He claims that Malta’s “Blockchain Island” promise was a ruse, and he blames the majority of his accusations on his former boss, ex-Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
“I know a lot of things people want to know,” the former Chairman of the Malta National Book Council claims. “Many people involved in large-scale corruption are still in government and are not facing justice.”
Camilleri’s choice of medium is almost as remarkable as his assertions. His allegations, titled “A Rent Seeker’s Paradise,” were previously only available as a non-fungible token, or NFT. The NFTs were released on September 15th. A print edition is set to be released today, October 15, the day before the fourth anniversary of Caruana Galizia’s death.
The journalist who toppled a government
Camilleri chose the NFT format to raise both awareness of the medium and funds to publish a print edition of his book.
He’s given out 101 NFTs, each of which is a JPEG of the book cover. Each corresponds to a PDF of the entire book and is identified by a unique serial number. They can be shared, just like any other book, but the owner keeps the NFT.
“If my book has a historic impact, such as forcing someone to resign, its value may skyrocket,” he says via Zoom from an undisclosed location.
Camilleri believes he is the world’s first whistleblower to submit his claims in NFT format. Furthermore, Malta can be a dangerous place for writers.
Caruana Galizia, a journalist and mother of three, was killed in October 2017 when a bomb exploded in her car. For years, she’d made it her mission to expose the corruption that was wreaking havoc on Malta’s institutions and threatening to spread throughout the rest of the European Union.
She reserved her wrath for Muscat and his associates, accusing his wife and ministers of a variety of wrongdoings. Michelle Muscat was found not guilty after a 15-month investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing. However, when billionaire businessman Jorgen Fenech was arrested in 2019 and accused of masterminding Caruana Galizia’s murder, prosecutors claimed he had close ties to senior government officials.
Muscat resigned as a result of the scandal. Camilleri is convinced that if Fenech is found guilty, other high-profile perpetrators will be exposed.
Camilleri does credit Muscat for the radical overhaul of Malta’s economy and laws, which opened the island up to foreign investment, innovation, and a (now rampant) construction boom. But he claims Muscat went too far and is to blame for Malta’s involvement in a Libyan oil-smuggling scandal that resulted in the arrest of a Maltese national footballer in 2017.
Camilleri claims in his book that the government has gone to great lengths to conceal its role in the Libyan oil scandal, with officials such as Finance Minister Clyde Caruana blaming Malta’s greylisting on its efforts to open up to the cryptocurrency industry.
When asked to comment on Camilleri’s claims, former Prime Minister Muscat said in an email to ULTCOIN365, “I totally refute Mr Camilleri’s allegations, some of which border on the ludicrous.”
“All criminal allegations are investigated by the police and any necessary action is taken accordingly,” a Maltese police spokesperson told ULTCOIN365, but declined to say specifically whether Camilleri’s claims were being investigated.
The press office of Malta’s current government did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
Malta’s Bitcoin dreams were shattered.
Camilleri’s NFT book, in the end, may be the most innovative thing to come out of Malta, which was once vying for the title of the world’s most crypto-favorable country, and lost an opportunity to profit from cryptocurrency after the rent-seeking businessmen pushing to open the island up to blockchain startups lost interest, Camilleri claims.
He also confirms that there was talk of Malta’s main energy supplier Electrogas hosting a Bitcoin mining farm on its premises at one point.
However, once business lobbyists realized that the public nature of Bitcoin transactions made it unsuitable for money laundering, they lost interest in the Blockchain Island scheme, and Camilleri claims that without this local support, the government’s plans would have failed.
In his book, he writes, “Had I been a mandarin, I would have bought Bitcoin and everyone would have been rich by now.”
His NFT tell-all isn’t making him wealthy. He’s only sold 10 NFTs out of 101 so far, at 0.1 ETH (approximately $380) each. However, he sees his book’s release in this format as “empowering” for the publishing industry.
Camilleri intends to launch a publishing house with the proceeds from his whistleblowing NFTs, claiming that there are many more secrets to be revealed.