PN: Abela must take steps on Cabinet members who chatted with 17 Black owner

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi: Prime Minister cannot normalise extended communication between Labour ministers and 17 Black owner Yorgen Fenech

Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis
Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis

Prime Minister Robert Abela has been called to take stock of news reports that Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech was in constant communication with former tourism, now justice minister Edward Zammit Lewis in 2019.

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi said news that the 17 Black owner remained in contact with a Labour minister through WhatsApp conversations, obliged Abela to take “concrete steps”.

“It is amazing that for Abela this almost daily contact with Fenech in 2019 when he was known to be the owner of 17 Black, a company set to channel monies to Panama companies owned by Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri, is normal,” Azzopardi said.

Azzopardi said the web of corruption around the Electrogas project, which Fenech was a shareholder and whose implementation was helmed by Mizzi, had left to an additional €40 million tax on fuel that should have been paid by Electrogas and instead was lumped on the Maltese taxpayer.

“So the messages exchanged between Zammit Lewis and Fenech are indeed serious and requires Abela to take action. The best-case scenario here is that Zammit Lewis showed bad judgement… Abela risks being an accomplice with his silence,” Azzopardi said.

Newspaper Illum reported that over 2,000 messages were sent between the alleged Daphne Caruna Galizia murder mastermind Yorgen Fenech, and a member of Robert Abela’s cabinet.

It is not yet clear who the Cabinet member is, and if the messages sent were for personal reasons.

While it is not yet clear what the messages read, sources say there are more than 800 messages between Fenech and former Office of the Prime Minister Chief of Staff Keith Schembri.

The former OPM chief of staff, had spoken about his friendship with Fenech, saying he would go through fire for his friends. But Schembri insisted that Fenech never told him about the murder and never asked for information from him.

Former PM Joseph Muscat had also been interrogated by police over the contents of a WhatsApp group chat with his former chief of staff, and the Tumas magnate.

MaltaToday understands that the contents of the WhatsApp group chat were retrieved from Yorgen Fenech’s smartphone, and contain communications that underpin a certain level of intimacy between the three men.

Under interrogation, Yorgen Fenech had also alleged that Keith Schembri was the mastermind behind the murder, having paid €80,000 for the assassination.

Illum reported that more than 700 messages between Fenech and former PN media head Pierre Portelli will be exhibited in court next October.

Portelli had forwarded Adrian Delia’s candidature for PN leader back in 2017. In his witness testimony, Keith Schembri had claimed Portelli would meet Fenech once a month to collect €20,000.

The claim came alongside Schembri’s allegation that PN Leader Adrian Delia took €50,000 from Yorgen Fenech to ensure that PN MEP David Casa was not re-elected during the 2019 elections.

Portelli had denied all claims.

The claim that Fenech had offered money to the PN to obstruct Casa’s election bid was first made by PN MP David Thake on TV programme Xarabank in 2019.

READ ALSO: Schembri was listed as Yorgen Fenech’s ‘next of kin’ in Houston cocaine arres