Cassola demands investigation on ministerial backscratching

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Former AD Chairman, now independent politician Arnold Cassola has asked the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life to assess allegations made during a French investigative programme broadcasted on Enquête exclusive.

In the program, the son of the well-known king of the night, Hugo Chetcuti, Luke Chetcuti, was caught saying that during a dinner with Minister for the Economy Chris Cardona, the Minister allegedly messaged Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi “We need to help the Chetcuti family, as they have always helped us [referring to Partit Laburista]”.

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Mizzi allegedly responded saying that Saint George’s Bay is quite small; however, he will see what he can do to expand its size.

Cassola said that on Enquête exclusive, Chetcuti can be heard complaining about the hotel’s concession on Saint George’s Bay with the hotel manager.

Chetcuti was later contacted by the television programme; however, he insisted that the footage was taken out of context. Both Minister Cardona and Minister Mizzi also denied accusations of trading in influence.

Commissioner for Standards asked to investigate

Cassola stated that the bay which Chetcuti is referring to is St George’s Bay, partly occupied by the Intercontinental Hotel.

In his letter, Cassola identified seven elements where unethical behaviour was shown.

These are:

  1. A businessman attempts to influence the Minister (Cardona) to favour him;
  2. The Minister (Cardona) accepts to be influenced;
  3. The Minister (Cardona) implies this to another Minister (Mizzi);
  4. The action is motivated by nepotism: To help those that help us;
  5. Minister Mizzi does not refuse;
  6. Mizzi shows the businessman that he might be able to facilitate him;
  7. Mizzi is ready to explore the possibility of enlarging the bay (using taxpayers’ money) to suit the private businessman Chetcuti.

“The Tourism Minister does not give land concessions”

In a statement, Government insisted that it is not true that political influence related to the concession of Saint George’s Bay, as the Tourism Minister does not give any concession.

Government concluded that it welcomes any investigation issued by the Commissioner of Standards regarding what was shown on the French media.

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