How rich is Joseph Muscat's cabinet of ministers?

Full data of all the declarations by government ministers in 2013.

Jurgen Balzan
22 July 2013, 12:00am
Big cabinet... big bucks
Big cabinet... big bucks

Home Affairs Minister Manuel Mallia is by far the wealthiest minister in the current Cabinet, according to the declarations tabled in Parliament earlier this week.

Apart from revealing who is, at least on paper, the richest and poorest within the Cabinet, the disclosure also showed that a number of ministers in the current Cabinet have a penchant for owning large quantities of immovable property.

The Cabinet's code of ethics does not bind ministers to declare the value of their properties and their investments, making it nigh on impossible to calculate their accurate net worth. In fact, none of them listed the value of their properties, and only a few gave a monetary value to their investments.

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Moreover, the code does not oblige ministers to reveal other assets such as cars, yachts and other personal effects of significant value, as is required in other EU and non-European countries.

Ministers' estimated value was therefore calculated based on the money deposited in banks - Minister Mallia's case, in cash - and investments, which were given a monetary value.

Article 48 of the Code of Ethics for Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries states that within two months from their appointment and not later than the month of March of each year, every minister and parliamentary secretary "should deposit with the Secretary to the Cabinet a declaration listing (a) the immovable property of the Minister or in relation to which he has some form of title, (b) shares, bonds or other interests which he may have in a company or partnership, public or private, (c) the sum total of money he has deposited in banks, (d) directorships or other offices he holds, (e) his income in the previous year and (f) the sum total of loans he may have received which are still outstanding."

Ministerial Declarations 2013 by maltatoday

Although the code says that the declarations should also include the property of spouses if it forms part of the community of acquests, only a minority of the 23 cabinet members pointed out their spouses' property and investments.

Also, despite the code's stipulation that ministers should avoid speculative investments "about which they have or may be thought to have by virtue of their ministerial office, early or confidential information likely to affect the price of those investments," a significant number of present and past ministers hold investments in locally based companies, some of which are listed on the stock exchange.

Richest Cabinet in history?

The Labour Cabinet is worth at least €5.5 million, with newcomers Manuel Mallia, Franco Mercieca, Edward Scicluna and Konrad Mizzi being the richest.

However, the real value of the 23 Cabinet members is higher since all ministers failed to include the value of their properties, shareholdings and investments. 

In contrast, the former PN Cabinet, consisting of 13 ministers, was worth €1.3 million (based on investments and deposits) - as disclosed in February 2013.

Manuel Mallia's net worth hovers above the €2 million mark, with over €1.2 million in investments, over €270,000 in bank deposits and €500,000 in cash.

Moreover, Mallia earns 25% of an inheritance from his parents, consisting of rents, ground rents and properties. He owns properties in Valletta, Msida, Gozo, Burmarrad and Romania, to which the criminal lawyer-turned-politician did not attribute a value.

Mallia failed to disclose his 2012 earnings and noted that he would give details of his BOV loan at a later stage.

The Parliamentary Secretary for the Elderly, Franco Mercieca, ranked second. Based on his investments and deposited money, the Gozitan eye surgeon, who was controversially granted a short-lived waiver to continue his private practice by the prime minister upon his appointment to the Cabinet, is worth over €850,000.

Mercieca has €656,724 invested in Menfi Ltd, a construction consortium, of which he is also a shareholder, and a further €115,766 invested in MSV bonds.

The ophthalmologist earned €116,245 and claimed to have just over €80,000 in the bank.

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna follows at third, with over €520,000 in investments and deposits. The former MEP has over €100,000 in deposits, together with his spouse, and over €400,000 in investments in government bonds.

Although the finance minister listed a number of posts held in 2012, which he gave up in the run-up to the 2013 election, including chairmanships and directorships at HSBC, the Cottonera Waterfront Group and the San Antonio Hotel, he did not disclose his earnings.

Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi is worth at least €350,000, with over 90% of his value in bank deposits. Curiously, Mizzi claims to own a house in London, UK, but did not list any properties in Malta.

Mizzi is followed by the elders of the Cabinet, Foreign Affairs minister George Vella and Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech.

Most of Vella's wealth consists of government bonds and other investments in Maltese companies such as Tumas Group, Farsons and Mizzi Group. The 71-year-old's estimated value amounts to over €340,000.

Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech's estimated value hovers around €330,000 with a long list of shares in private bonds and funds and over €100,000 in bank deposits.

The former Air Malta chairman and MEP also failed to disclose his 2012 earnings.

Other ministers in the top half of the list include Parliamentary Secretary for Culture Jose Herrera, Environment Minister Leo Brincat, Tourism Minister Karmenu Vella and junior minister for economic growth Edward Zammit Lewis.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat appears at mid-table with an estimated value of €70,000, where he is joined by Minister for the Economy Chris Cardona, who has €60,000 in bank deposits.

Cardona claimed that his earnings in 2012 reached €23,430, however he was granted a loan of €577,000, with his properties in Zabbar, Birkirkara and Madleina presumably acting as collateral.

Only three ministers declared the ownership of properties abroad, with Roderick Galdes declaring a property in Middlesex, UK.

A number of ministers have vast property interests, with Gozo Minister Anton Refalo owning 14 properties in Gozo and Malta and a loan of €830,000.

The bottom end of the list includes Equality Minister Helena Dalli, Family Minister Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, Transport Minister Joe Mizzi and Education Minister Evarist Bartolo.
Jurgen Balzan joined MaltaToday in 2011, specialising in politics, foreig...