‘How are you holding up?’: March 2019 WhatsApp chat between Fenech and Delia

‘If it happened it certainly does not make me an acquaintance’ – Adrian Delia says of WhatsApp chat excerpt with Yorgen Fenech

Adrian Delia: ‘If it happened it certainly does not make me an acquaintance of [Fenech]’
Adrian Delia: ‘If it happened it certainly does not make me an acquaintance of [Fenech]’

The Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech shared a satirical map of Europe with Opposition leader Adrian Delia on WhatsApp, according to a conversation in February 2019 retrieved by Europol and Maltese police IT experts.

The short conversation, seen by MaltaToday, is from a print-out of the 5 February 2019 conversation in Europol’s hands, part of the WhatsApp conversations retrieved from Yorgen Fenech on his arrest for allegedly having commissioned the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

“Sadly true,” Delia told Fenech at 5:35pm on 5 February, some two hours after receiving the map of ‘Europe as seen through the eyes of the Maltese’: the Netherlands are ‘grass and sex’, Belgium is ‘EU’, Germany is ‘Hitler and hairy women’ and Eastern Europe and Russia are ‘prostitutes’.

Not much banter, not one ‘lol’ and just a dry acknowledgement of a message initiated by Fenech. But then he was already known to be the owner of 17 Black, the mysterious Dubai company suspected of having a deep connection to the Panama companies secretly opened by disgraced PM Joseph Muscat’s former chief of staff Keith Schembri.

Still, despite his party having led its own campaign on the mysterious 17 Black, Delia seem to have obliged with a reaction to the message.

Then, an hour late at 6:48pm, Fenech again messages Delia: “How are you holding up?”; and another message, one minute later, “I think about you but I don’t want to bother you and add myself to the list of botherers you have.”

In a long reply to MaltaToday, Delia said he does not recall the alleged chat. “If it happened it certainly does not make me an acquaintance with the person in question from whom I never solicited anything be it money or things in kind – before and after 17 Black,” he said, referring to another WhatsApp chat allegedly taking in place in March 2019, in which Fenech suggested a dinner.

“What you refer to, the alleged reply from my end, is clearly no sign of complicity or friendship with the person in question.”

Previous WhatsApp messages

Delia has already denied having received WhatsApp messages from Fenech: in June 2020, The Times reported that a series of messages were exchanged between the two in the first half of 2019, again with Fenech who initiated the chats. The news provoked a backbench rebellion that pushed the party into calling for a new leadership election: Delia is facing off rival contender Bernard Grech.

A magisterial inquiry is under way to gather evidence into claims that Fenech offered the party leadership €50,000 if David Casa failed to get elected in the May 2019 European Parliament elections.

Delia yesterday told MaltaToday he denied these allegations. “I took a solemn oath through an affidavit that I did not. I’ve also asked the police to investigate and have since not been called by the Magistrate inquiring the allegations. I have absolutely nothing to hide.”

Casa was a vocal anti-corruption critic, focusing much of his attention on 17 Black and the links between former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri and former energy minister Konrad Mizzi.

Delia, who is undergoing a thorough due diligence process as part of the acceptance process to contest the PN leadership contest, said anyone with proof to the contrary should “step forward”.

“For the last three years the party media did hundreds of programmes on 17 Black, corruption, money laundering, the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, kickbacks implicating top government brass, and Vitals. I was vociferous on all of these matters and this led to the resignation of Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi and Chris Cardona.

“I’ve fought corruption all my adult life and shall continue to do so with all my strength. Now that we are at yet another PN leadership challenge, the agents of doom and gloom are at it again. They barely lifted a finger the past three years to strengthen the party – but have certainly been active in trying to tarnish my reputation through lies and calumny. 

“Make no mistake, they will not intimidate me. Soon facts will be laid bare and lies and manipulators exposed.”