Updated | MP says Gaffarena’s gifts are ‘blackmail’, Labour claims ethics’ breach

Nationalist MP Joe Cassar says Joe Gaffarena's gifts - a €1,000 car and CCTV system for his house - had now turned out to be blackmail, after former minister admits giving PN €1,000 donation for second-hand car from property entrepreneur

A former minister who set off the acquisition of a second-hand vehicle against a €1,000 donation to the Nationalist Party, is now demanding “the protection of the Speaker” against the “threat of blackmail against [his] family”.

Nationalist MP Joe Cassar admitted having donated €1,000 to the PN in lieu of his acquisition of a vehicle for his daughter from property entrepreneur Joe Gaffarena, whom he claimed refused payment for the car.

Cassar first made the admission on Tuesday evening to MaltaToday after earlier that same day, he refused to confirm whether he had accepted a gift from the notorious Gaffarena family, whose ties to MPs straddle the political divide.

[WATCH] Nationalist MP deflects question over Gaffarena association
MP gave PN donation after Gaffarena refused money for car he ‘sold’ him

But Cassar in parliament hit back at the embattled parliamentary secretary for lands Michael Falzon, under whose tenure Gaffarena’s son Marco was granted a controversial €1.65 million expropriation for a Valletta property, which is now under investigation by the National Audit Office. 

“Falzon attacked me personally in the House when without mentioning my name, by mentioning that an Opposition MP had been donated a car,” Cassar said in his winding-up speech. “This government is paradoxically using personal attacks to hide its own scandals,” Cassar said to resounding approval from his colleagues in the House, in reference to the Gaffarena expropriation deal.

“The allegations on my family are lies,” Cassar said, playing down the €1,000 donation he gave to the PN to set off the acquisition of the car for his daughter back in 2012 when he was health minister.

“Mr Joe Gaffarena would always ask to meet with me because in me, he found somebody ready to listen to him. He cried to me when the Nationalist government prohibited him from opening a petrol pump station he [extended] illegally. He would tell me his family had nothing to live from,” Cassar said of his relationship with Gaffarena, formerly an importer of the Kia car brand.

“I wanted to help Gaffarena out, so when my daughter turned 18 I bought a car from him… we agreed that the car had to cost €1,000, a simple transaction to buy an 11-year-old Peugeot 306. Mr Gaffarena himself told me to donate the money to the PN, and told me not to put his name down for the donation so he does not reveal this donation to the rest of his family.”

The former minister has not yet submitted a receipt for the alleged donation from the PN, or proof that the value of the car he was ‘sold’ was indeed €1,000.

“When Joe Gaffarena would visit me, he would always tell me that I lacked security cameras around my house, sending shivers down my wife’s spine... Months later I found somebody outside my house installing them,” Cassar said of his relationship with Gaffarena – a Nationalist Party supporter whose political allegiances would have switched after 2008 when the planning authority shut down his Qormi petrol station over an abusive extension. "I spent various months running after this installer to pay him, only to be avoided."

Cassar then said that he was convinced Gaffarena's gifts were part of a frame-up.

Instead Cassar queried whether the Labour Party had held meetings with the Gaffarenas prior to the 2013 elections, and whether it accepted donations from the family. “The Nationalist Party was never blackmailed by the Gaffarena family… now it appears that the Labour administration has had to pay somebody back.”After ‘paying’ Gaffarena’s €1,000 car with PN donation, MP demands ‘Speaker’s protection’


In a statement, the Labour Party accused Cassar of having breached the ministerial code of ethics by accepting the gifts of the car and the CCTV system. "His weak excuse is that these gifts given to him years ago are a frame-up. We know only today that he broke the code of ethics. Instead of being suspended by the PN, he has found Simon Busuttil's unconditoinal support," the PL said.

In a statement issued this evening, the PN said that Mucat has defended parliamentary secretary Michael Falzon even though he was involved in the Gaffarena scandal, and that he has tried to deviate attention from his inaction towards Falzon by lying and plotting with Gaffarena about past events.

“These Fascist tactics will not keep the opposition from reiterating that Falzon and Muscat should shoulder political responsibility for granting Gaffarena the necessary permits to build an abusive petrol station and for the expropriation which made Gaffarena a millionaire overnight,” the statement reads.

 PN stressed that these were the real scandals and added that this was a truly dangerous situation for the country.