Updated | RCC denies giving PN strategy advice and offers Muscat his own

Richard Cachia Caruana says One News report of his involvement in politics is false and tells Muscat to get rid of minister and his chief of staff

Labour claims PN leak shows Richard Cachia Caruana back on strategy
Labour claims PN leak shows Richard Cachia Caruana back on strategy

Richard Cachia Caruana, Malta’s former representative to the European Union, has denied being involved in the Nationalist Party’s strategy after Labour Party media on Saturday claimed it had notes showing that the PN’s strategy was being led by Cachia Caruana.

According to these minutes, which were not shown in One News's report, the PN’s strategy includes “a series of partisan protests aimed at destabilising the country’s economy with constant references to 1987” – the year when the Nationalist Party took the government after the Mintoff and Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici administrations.

It said that today’s protest against corruption, and the strategy for the coming weeks and months, had been left in Cachia Caruana’s hands.

Cachia Caruana said the claims were false.

“The prime minister would be well advised to ask himself how Eddie Fenech Adami would have reacted to what has emerged about Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri in recent weeks. I can also give him the answer: They would not have lasted in the positions they hold for longer than five minutes,” he wrote on Facebook.

“The prime minister needs to focus properly on his chief of staff rather than on Eddie Fenech Adami’s. I left that position twelve years ago.

“I can also give him the same advice I would have given Fenech Adami (in the unlikely event that he would have required it): The harm you are doing to your reputation and that of the country by hanging on to these two people is staggering. Get rid of them both now. There is no politically acceptable reason for a minister and your chief of staff to have set up these convoluted trust and company structures anywhere, let alone in Panama and New Zealand.”

One News reported on Saturday that a meeting was held last Monday, for which PN leader Simon Busuttil, deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami, former finance minister Tonio Fenech and Cachia Caruana were all present. Fenech Adami was described as “one of the faces set to lead the aggressive campaign” while Cachia Caruana, according to the news report, was in regular contact with Malta Independent columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia and PN MPs Jason Azzopardi and Ryan Callus.

On Friday, Fenech Adami denied that Cachia Caruana had returned to the fold, adding that “Cachia Caruana held no official position” when pressed by the PL media. Jason Azzopardi issued a statement on Sunday denying that he had ever met Cachia Caruana since the 2013 election except on social occasions.

Protest against corruption

The Nationalist Party has been out in full drive encouraging citizens to join its protest, announced following revelations that energy minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, each owned an offshore company in Panama, a tax haven.

PN leader Simon Busuttil has argued that people who do not attend this afternoon’s anti-corruption protest would be giving their tacit approval to corruption within the government.

“The government has now exceeded all limits, and the time has come for the people to show their anger and disgust at what is going on, and to stand up and be counted,” Busuttil said during an interview on party station Radio 101 on Friday.

“The people who don’t join the protest will be sending a message to Muscat that he can continue doing whatever he likes,” he said.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has turned down suggestions by MaltaToday that his right-hand man Keith Schembri’s offshore business was putting him in a politically uncomfortable situation.

“It would be uncomfortable had this person entered politics for his own benefit,” Muscat said of Schembri, whose family runs the Kasco group.
“This man made his success in business before entering politics, and has chosen to work for his country – much in the same way that Richard Cachia Caruana did,” he said referring to Eddie Fenech Adami’s former head of secretariat.

“Cachia Caruana was certainly not on the minimum wage, came from noble stock, and his properties and wealth were never subjected to any audit in the way that Schembri has chosen to do.”

“I am against corruption, as any citizen who loves this country is. I would go to the protest on Sunday but I won’t because the person who is organising it has no credibility, was part of a corrupt government and a system against which he never spoke out when there were problems such as the oil scandal. He shut up and did nothing,” Muscat said, referring to Busuttil.

“People expect better of us and I take responsibility as prime minister. I have to act on criticism, but the PN is in no position to give lessons.”

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