Repubblika files police report over Yorgen Fenech Bvglari watch gift to Joseph Muscat

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Rule of law NGO Repubblika has filed a police report denouncing Prime Minister Joseph Muscat for alleged corruption, bribery and conflict of interest. The report, addressed to Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar, was signed by lawyer Jason Azzopardi. It comes after Lovin Malta revealed that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat received a €20,000 Bvglari watch from the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect in 2014.

To date, no government spokesperson has denied the story. Fenech stands accused of being an accomplice in Caruana Galizia’s murder. The recent progress in the investigation prompted the resignation of Minister Konrad Mizzi and disgraced Chief of Staff Keith Schembri. Muscat announced that he would step down in January after Fenech was arraigned in court.

Schembri, is officially under investigation in connection to the murder, the phantom job given to self-confessed middleman Melvin Theuma and tampering of evidence.

Fenech is also the owner of 17 Black, a Dubai-based offshore company which was named as the ‘target client’ of Schembri’s and Mizzi’s offshore setups.

On Tuesday, Lovin Malta reported that Muscat accepted the expensive gift in Christmas 2014. The watch was one of only 25 watches that were designed for the occasion of Malta’s accession to the European Union in 2004. Fenech’s late father, George Fenech, had bought several of the limited edition watches when they were released. The online news portal quoted sources saying that the watch cost around in €20,000.

In its police report, Repubblika detailed that the gift was given during Christmas 2014, weeks after the government had given an “unprecedented” €88 million state guarantee to cover a bank loan for Electrogas to build the new power station. The NGO said since 2013, Tumas Group CEO Yorgen Fenech and a main director of the Electrogas consortium was the “preferred bidder” for the new power station. The NGO cited the National Audit Office report on the awarding of the contract.

Repubblika noted that the Bvlgari watch given to Muscat needs to be taken into the context that the Head of Government was asked for the loan guarantee and had granted the request. The head of Government had authorised the initial €88 million bank guarantee (and that in 28 May 2015 increasing by another €22 million). “This amounts to a clear indication of a criminal act,” Repubblika through its lawyer Dr Azzopardi, said.

Further, the NGO drew the attention of the Police Commissioner to the watch, which bears number 17 – the same number of the secret Dubai company.

“In light of this, my clients are denouncing Joseph Muscat, of the crimes of bribery under articles 115(1)(b) and 115(1)(c) of the Criminal Code, corruption under article 118 of the Criminal Code and of the crime of having a private interest in a public adjudication under article 124 and 125 of the Criminal Code,” the report ends.

Alternattiva Demokratika’s chairperson Carmel Cacopardo called on the Standards Commissioner to investigate the gift.

‘Follow the spirit of the law’ – Arnold Cassola

Former AD chairperson and Independent Candidate Arnaold Cassola urged Standards Commissioner George Hyzler to investigate the case even though it happened in 2014. Cassola said while the Commissioner would be legally right not to investigate a case which occurred in 2014, the independent candidate argued that ‘there was much more than legality involved in this issue’.

Cassola urged Hyzler to implement the spirit of the law, which is that of affirming strong ethics in political behaviour. “This Bvlgari watch donation has further massive implications,” Cassola said. Apart from mentioning the power station, Cassola said that Muscat’s government introduced Fenech’s Mrieħel land into the allowed high rise areas as well as Fenech travelling with Muscat to Florence to attend Ali Sadr Hasheminejad’s wedding.