Petrus gift to Muscat: ethics investigation complete but MPs will read report first

Standards commissioner passes on report into Petrus gift from Yorgen Fenech to Joseph Muscat, to parliamentary committee

The independent candidate Arnold Cassola has filed a complaint with the Speaker of the House, insisting that a report by the standards czar on his ethics complaint be published.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards in Public Life informed Cassola that an investigation on a gift from Yorgen Fenech, the alleged mastermind in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, to former prime minister Joseph Muscat had been concluded.

The complaint concerns the bottles of Petrus wine Fenech was said to have gifted Muscat at a party for the former PM in the state palace of Girgenti.

Commissioner George Hyzler forwarded his investigation to the parliamentary committee for standards instead of publishing the report. It will now be up to the committee to consider the report, which means it will be the MPs in the committee to decide when the investigation is published.

Yorgen Fenech was one of Joseph Muscat’s guests at a party held at the Prime Minister’s Girgenti residence last February, The Times had reported, where he gifted him fine wine worth thousands of euros.

The February party at Girgenti Palace made headlines after a video was leaked on WhatsApp showing Muscat and his wife Michelle leading guests in chanting an old Labour Party anthem.

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The Times said Fenech gifted the prime minister three bottles of the premier Bordeaux red wine, Pétrus; one of the bottles was a 1974 vintage, the prime minister’s birth year, while the other two bottles – both 2007 vintages – mark the year Muscat’s twin daughters were born.

The three bottles could cost around €5,800 if purchased online.

A spokesperson for the OPM said that the Malta Security Services had told the PM that the Fenechs should not be excluded from the list of invitees for the Prime Minister’s birthday party, “for which the couple attended briefly.” But the confirmation of Fenech’s presence at the Girgenti party also confirms that the Tumas magnate was not simply a friend of the former chief of staff, Keith Schembri.

Muscat knew that Fenech was a suspect in the Caruana Galizia case since at least May 2018, when he signed a warrant allowing the Malta Security Service to tap the businessman’s phone.