PN expects government MPs to adopt Hyzler report on Cutajar

Nationalist MPs insist Rosianne Cutajar must be removed from the Labour Party’s parliamentary group following the Standards Commissioner’s report on her involvement in a property deal

Nationalist MPs Therese Comodini Cachia and Karol Aquilina
Nationalist MPs Therese Comodini Cachia and Karol Aquilina

Nationalist MPs Karol Aquilina and Therese Comodini Cachia expect the Standards in Public Life Committee to adopt the report on Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar when this is discussed next week.

“The report needs to be approved, we expect it to be approved, if we want to send out the message that we are truly working on removing Malta from the greylist,” Aquilina said.

On Monday, members of parliament’s ethics committee agreed to publish an investigation into Rosianne Cutajar’s involvement with murder suspect Yorgen Fenech in an Mdina property sale.

The report penned by Standards Commissioner George Hyzler includes a two-volume annex with evidence collected throughout the investigation.

A separate volume containing private chats between Cutajar and Fenech and the MPs bank statements will only be made available to MPs on the committee.

Hyzler concluded that Cutajar breached ethics when she failed to declare brokerage fees she received from the deal in her parliamentary declaration. He also recommended that his findings be passed on to the Tax Commissioner for further investigation.

The investigation was requested by independent candidate Arnold Cassola following a MaltaToday story that showed how Cutajar and her political aide, Charles Farrugia known as it-Tikka, received a brokerage fee for the sale of a property in Mdina to Fenech.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, Aquilina said that Prime Minister Robert Abela had the “golden chance” of showing he truly means business, and should have removed Cutajar from the Labour parliamentary group.

Abela has so far left Cutajar out of Cabinet after making permanent her resignation from parliamentary secretary after Hyzler's report was published. Cutajar had resigned temporarily last February pending Hyzler's investigation.

“It is clear that Robert Abela and his ministers are hostage to information she knows about them,” Aquilina said.

Approving Hyzler’s report would mean that Rosianne Cutajar would have to shoulder responsibility for her actions.

“If Robert Abela is refusing to take the necessary decisions, no wonder the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) did not trust him,” Comodini Cachia said, drawing comparisons to former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s actions when he knew about allegations against former minister Konrad Mizzi.

Aquilina and Comodini Cachia are the PN representatives on the standards committee, which is chaired by Speaker Anglu Farrugia. The government representatives are Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis and government Whip Glenn Bedingfield.

Fielding questions from the media, both MPs played down suggestions that Cutajar’s case had any semblance to PN leader Bernard Grech’s tax dues prior to the leadership election.

Grech had received a number of warnings for failing to pay his income tax and VAT, over €60,000 in total, over two decades. The dues were settled just before the PN leadership election last year.

Aquilina said that Grech had addressed his tax issues, and there was certification to prove it, while Comodini Cachia insisted Rosianne Cutajar had received money from an individual who had serious allegations dangling over his head, after information on 17 Black was already published.

“There is a big difference between the two situations,” she insisted.

The Standards in Public Life Committee will be discussing the report next Monday when Hyzler is also expected to appear in front of it.

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