[WATCH] Updated | Adrian Delia hints that PN MPs' meeting with Yorgen Fenech may have been error of judgement

Kristy Debono apologises for meeting with Fenech, admits it was an error of judgement

Adrian Delia led a PN parliamentary group courtesy call to the President George Vella. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Adrian Delia led a PN parliamentary group courtesy call to the President George Vella. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Adrian Delia says he will talk to PN MPs over meeting with 17 Black owner

Updated at 7pm with statement from Kristy Debono

Adrian Delia said that he will talk to MPs Hermann Schiavone and Kristy Debono over a meeting they had with Yorgen Fenech, owner of 17 Black.

Delia said on Monday that he was unaware of the meeting between his two MPs and Fenech but hinted they may have made an error of judgement.

In November last year, Fenech was identified as the owner of Dubai company 17 Black, which had been listed as a client of the Panama companies opened by minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri.

Delia had at the time criticized the Prime Minister for failing to do anything over the revelation and had requested an emergency debate in Parliament on the matter.

Fenech is part-owner of the Tumas Group and, together with Gasan Group Limited is a 10% shareholder in Electrogas, the company that was awarded the tender to build the gas power station when Mizzi was Energy Minister.

The Sunday Times of Malta reported that Nationalist MPs Schiavone and Debono met with Fenech last week to seek sponsorship for a conference. Debono admitted meeting Fenech.

Asked about the meeting, Delia insisted he did not know about it.

“I will speak to them. The most important thing is that all that’s wrong with 17 Black and whoever is associated directly or indirectly with it is investigated without reserve,” he said, adding the meeting with Fenech would not harm the PN's fight against corruption.

Delia said he hoped that the media would not deviate from the main point and suggested that the press was giving importance to something that was assumed to be more interesting. 

Pressed on whether Delia would take action, especially since he was so critical of the government’s association with Yorgen Fenech and given his role as Opposition spokesperson for good governance, he replied: “The most important thing is not whether [Debono] and [Schiavone] met with [Fenech] but whether they did anything wrong.”

Delia said that the “man on the street” had several opinions on the matter but that there should be a distinction between what was evidently criminal and what was simply an anecdote. 

On Sunday, Jason Azzopardi ostensibly referred his fellow MPs’ meeting with Fenech in an obscure tweet about corruption.

“How can you even think of being credible on corruption if you, whilst criticising the corruptor, meet behind the backs of your teammates and the public? Not to mention the possibility of being criminal accomplices,” he wrote.

Delia said that he was unaware of the tweet. 

The Opposition leader gave his comments after a courtesy call by PN parliamentary group to President George Vella.

Kirsty Debono apologises for ‘error of judgement’

In a statement on Monday evening, Debono said she “now realised” that the meeting with Fenech was “an error of judgement”, adding that she was sorry for the “unnecessary controversy”.

“Following reactions in the media, social media and various people I have spoken to, I now realise that meeting the CEO of Tumas Group was an error of judgement on my behalf and I unreservedly apologise for the unnecessary controversy,” Debono said.

“I had this meeting with the sole intention of organising a political conference on a non-profit making basis. To this end, I shortlisted a number of possible conference venues, in the vicinities of St Julian's and Swieqi, to discuss the possible sponsorship of a small conference room - a sponsorship which did not actually materialise.”

“The meeting was held in broad daylight, was non-secretive and all was above board. It was only to this end, and nothing else, that I conducted the said meeting,” she emphasised, “I wish to assure one and all that my stand against corruption remains as strong as ever.”

Meeting with the President

Delia was at the President’s Palace in Valletta, along with a majority of PN MPs, for a courtesy meeting with new president George Vella. 

The PN leader thanked the president for his unequivocal take on abortion and the need for investments in education.

Vella made a short speech about the importance of strengthening the point of contact between his office and the members of the opposition and the government. 

“But first and foremost, we should be worthy of our honourable titles. It is our duty to inform the public well and be respectful,” Vella said.

Vella admitted that Malta was facing a lot of challenges at the present moment and even commented on the drive-by shooting that took place in Birzebbuga on Saturday evening.

He expressed hope the shooting was not motivated by racism.