PN sheds doubt on credibility of Cardona’s apartment contract

PN deputy leader demands Prime Minister’s explanation on economy minister Chris Cardona’s actions

PN deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami today challenged Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to clarify whether allegations levelled at economy minister Chris Cardona were true or false.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday evening, Fenech Adami questioned whether Cardona was currently living free of charge in the luxurious apartment building at Portomaso and whether he frequented a "shady" bar in Valletta.

Addressing the press this afternoon, Fenech Adami said "all I did was ask whether the Prime Minister has anything to say about these serious accusations because he has a duty to verify and take action if necessary."

At 10pm Cardona published a scanned copy of a contract showing that a one-bedroom apartment he has at Portomaso is rented at €1,400 per month.

The contract was signed on 1 December 2014 and the duration of the lease is for a period of 10 months. The agreement was entered into between Cardona as the lessee and Silvan Fenech as the lessor.

But Fenech Adami said that Cardona and Muscat's reactions in Parliament were very telling and only four hours later did Cardona publish the contract.

"Cardona should have said that he has a contract in Parliament and declared that he would be publishing it later. At no time did he say that he has a contract. The publication of the contract only compounds the doubts. If the Prime Minister believes this then he would fall for everything," Fenech Adami said.

The PN deputy leader pointed out that the contract is not credible because it is formulated in a "strange" manner and omits many standard clauses.

"It’s done amateurishly and has a lack of details of who are the lessee and the lessor," he said, adding that the contract does not include safeguards which protect the owner's rights in case the contract is breached.

"I have never seen a clause in a rental contract which says that the agreement is valid for 10 months and the payment should be affected at the end of the contract and not one month in advance or at most one month later as is standard practice.”

“Incredibly,” Fenech Adami said, Cardona is required to pay his dues five days before the contract expires.

“Normally contracts includes clauses which give the right to the owner to take action if dues are unpaid. Moreover, there is no clear indication for the car space reserved for the minister and the contract makes no mention of an inventory or a deposit,” he said.

Opposition MP Claudio Grech also called on the Prime Minister to ensure that the economy minister, which he described as the "front end" of Malta's economy, is free of controversy.

Noting that the Cabinet of minister’s code of ethics also makes reference to perceived conflicts of interest, Grech said the air can only be cleared by Cardona and the Prime Minister.

Fenech Adami added “As a minister you cannot just hang around in shady environments. There’s nothing wrong in going to a bar but hanging around from 3pm to midnight in a bar allegedly frequented by criminals and were drugs are consumed is a different story.”

Asked whether he was taking the allegations made by the Malta Independent columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia as fact, Fenech Adami said that he was only asking the Prime Minister to verify the accusations and clarify things.

Government reaction

In a statement, the government said economy minister Chris Cardona would stay focused on his work as minister to attract investment to Malta, and accused Beppe Fenech Adami of repeating allegations made by Malta Independent columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

"These allegations were denied and the contract of rent was also published, effectively putting paid to all senseless speculation being made. Simon Busuttil's Opposition has now formalised its association between the PN and Caruana Galizia."