Updated | PL challenges Busuttil over MEP’s expenses ‘scandal’

Labour accuses Therese Comodini Cachia of breaching EU rules by using part of her allowance to pay salary of PN strategist John Zammit • PN dismisses report as a lie 

MEP Therese Comodini Cachia will contest the election as a PN candidate
MEP Therese Comodini Cachia will contest the election as a PN candidate

Report by Stefan Paul Galea

The Labour Party has accused PN leader Simon Busuttil of hypocrisy in the wake of reports that MEP Therese Comodini Cachia is misusing a portion of her personal allowance to fork out the monthly salary of PN strategist John Zammit.

Addressing a press conference at the PL headquarters, justice minister Owen Bonnici said that this was the third known “scandal” involving the financing of the Nationalist Party – following the Cedoli scheme and allegations that the DB Group paid the monthly salaries of two of the party’s top officials.

He urged Busuttil to request an investigation into the allegations against Comodini Cachia, which he said could amount to a circumvention of the law regulating the financing of political parties.

Parliamentary secretary for EU funds Ian Borg accused the PN of hypocrisy in basing its electoral campaign on combatting corruption.

“It is very hypocritical of the PN to shout corruption and use ‘I choose Malta’ as its campaign slogan, when all it’s doing is tarnishing Malta’s reputation.”

PL newspaper Kullhadd reported today that it is in possession of “official documentation” that Zammit is registered as being employed with the PN’s media arm MediaLink but that his monthly cheque is issued to him by Comodini Cachia – who will contest the upcoming election on the PN ticket.

According to EU rules, European funds granted to MEPs “may not be used for the direct or indirect funding of other political parties”.

Kullhadd says that John Zammit is one of Simon Busuttil’s most trusted companions, and that he has been entrusted with writing the PN leader’s speeches and official messages.
“People who know Busuttil have told us that his political language became more extreme ever since he was elected PN leader and brought John Zammit by his side,” the paper reads. “Zammit is renowned for his cruel, aggressive and envious tone when speaking about Labour politicians and supporters, and ex Nationalists who have joined Joseph Muscat’s movement.”
The paper also claims that he is “extremely close” to Daphne Caruana Galizia, described as a “Nationalist blogger”.  

The PN dismissed the report as a lie cooked up by the Labour Party in an attempt to deviate public attention from ongoing government scandals.

“John Zammit no longer works with the office of Therese Comodini Cachia. During a period lasting 20 months, starting in July 2014 just after her election to the European Parliament, John Zammit was employed within the office of the MEP and completed his duties as stipulated in his contract as approved by the European Parliament,” the PN said. “His contract lasted until February 2016, more than a year ago. This can be easily checked, but Labour keeps lying.

“The contract was public knowledge and fully transparent, publicly listing all employees not only through the audited accounts conducted voluntarily by the MEP but also on the website of the European Parliament itself. Unlike Labour, PN has nothing to hide.”

The PN also questioned why Joseph Muscat had only employed one assistant during his tenure as MEP, why PL MEPs have not all published their audited accounts, and why previous PL MEPs failed to publish their audited accounts.

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