Rosianne Cutajar's associate takes the fall for Mdina property deal involving Yorgen Fenech

Charles Farrugia known as it-Tikka tells Speaker he will adjust income tax returns to declare money received from a property deal involving Yorgen Fenech in what appears to be an attempt to exonerate Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar

Charles Farrugia, known as it-Tikka, and Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar
Charles Farrugia, known as it-Tikka, and Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar

Rosianne Cutajar’s associate Charles Farrugia, known as it-Tikka, will be taking the fall over a controversial property deal involving murder suspect Yorgen Fenech.

In a letter to Speaker Anglu Farrugia, Cutajar's associate said that he will be filing an adjustment to his income tax returns to declare payments he received from a €3.1 million property deal involving Fenech. Charles Farrugia is insisting the payment was not a brokerage fee but an ex-gratia payment for bringing the parties together.

The seller, Joe Camilleri, has alleged that he paid brokerage fees to Farrugia and Cutajar in cash. The Labour MP had been present for the viewing of the Mdina palazzo and also called Fenech because he was late for the meeting.

Farrugia's decision to declare all the payments received from the property deal was communicated this afternoon by the Speaker at the start of parliament's Standards Committee meeting on Monday afternoon.

€124,000 in brokerage fees were paid, with €93,000 coming from seller Joseph Camilleri and €31,000 from Yorgen Fenech. Fenech handed the €31,000 in cash to Cutajar, which she was supposed to give to her associate. Cutajar admitted that Fenech's payment included a €9,000 birthday gift for her.


Cutajar has denied receiving any brokerage fees from the deal, insisting she played no part in the sale apart from suggesting Fenech's name as a possible buyer.

Standards Commissioner George Hyzler found that Cutajar breached ethics when she did not declare the income from the deal in her parliamentary declaration.

Following Hyzler's conclusions, Prime Minister Robert Abela informed Cutajar that her temporary resignation from parliamentary secretary last February was made permanent. Her previous portfolio has now been transferred to Owen Bonnici.

The Standards Committee, chaired by the speaker is discussing the case, with Hyzler being questioned on his report.

Standards Committee sitting  

Speaking during the standards committee meeting, Hyzler said that the MP’s actions and behavior indicated that she had indeed acted as a broker.

“Her actions led others to believe this too,” Hyzler said.

He also said that based on his professional opinion, Cutajar had acted as broker during the deal.

“In every meeting between Farrugia and Camilleri, she was present. In a meeting held at Mdina, she was there,” he said. “I needed to look at the circumstantial evidence, and that showed me that there was a greater chance that she took them.”

He said that her aide had introduced her as the broker.

“She certainly found the buyer. She communicated with him, discussed the price, visited the site. She regularly called to chase up the promise of sale. She encouraged Fenech to buy the property. She may not have been present for the signing, but the agreement includes the term ‘brokerage’,” Hyzler said.

Labour whip Glenn Bedingfield also asked Hyzler whether he had spoken to everyone involved in the case, hinting at Yorgen Fenech.

“In Fenech’s case for example, I felt that I did not need to speak to him, and he wouldn’t contribute any further to the investigation,” he said. “All he could do was confirm what was written in the chats.”

He also said that chats between the MP and Fenech showed that Cutajar did want some monetary gain from the deal.

Hyzler went on to say that if Cutajar had any issue with Fenech not testifying, she could have requested his testimony during the investigation.

“Cutajar’s father, and her former driver both testified. She could have called for Yorgen Fenech to testify in the investigation,” he said.

The standards czar said that Cutajar might have been dragged into the case for ulterior motives.

“But they remain friends. As a former politician, if my friend uses my name to get personal gain, we wouldn’t remain friends. I would have thrown someone out of the window had they done something like that to me,” he said.

At the beginning of the committee meeting, Bedingfield raised concerns on the leakage of documents to the media, implying it was opposition MPs who were doing so.

“This committee leaks more than a sieve,” Bedingfield said.   

The sitting will continue on Tuesday at 8 am.