Arnold Cassola asks corruption commission to investigate Yorgen Fenech’s gifts to PM

Independent candidate Arnold Cassola asks the corruption commission to probe revelations that Caruana Galizia assassination mastermind Yorgen Fenech gifted Joseph Muscat a €20,000 Bvlgari watch and a €5,800 premier Bordeaux red wine

Arnold Cassola
Arnold Cassola

Arnold Cassola has written to the chairperson of the corruption commission, Lawrence Quintano, to investigate the donations given by alleged Daphne Caruana Galizia murder mastermind, Yorgen Fenech to outgoing Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

“Considering the gravity of these revelations, which not only involve corruption, but also an assassination and a threat to democracy, I am asking you to call for testimony people who can shed more light on these cases,” the letter read.

The donations include a €20,000 Bvlgari watch gifted to Muscat by Yorgen Fenech in 2014.

Cassola linked the donation to the government recommendation of adding Mriehel as a site where buildings which exceed more than 10 storeys can be built. Sites where such building height is possible include Qawra, Marsa, Tigne and Gzira.

Planning Ombudsman David Pace had insisted that the government was wrong to include Mriehel by stealth as a high-rise zone in the approved policy regulating tall buildings.

“The inclusion of Mriehel in the approved zones where the policy is applicable, should have been put to public consultation prior to the final approval by the MEPA board,” the planning ombudsman had told MaltaToday. Mriehel had not been in the original list of designated sites for high-rise but was added in at a later stage.

News of the watch donation came on Christmas Eve, but reacting to the allegations on Boxing Day, Muscat stated that he had followed the code and rules related to gifts.

In a statement released by the Department of Information, Muscat had said he would not engage in answering “partial, deeply manipulated information being selectively leaked to parts of the media by someone who is directing the accused in a hideous assassination case to obviously try to build a narrative that is both misleading and self-serving.”

The second donation which Cassola has asked the corruption commission to investigate is the donation of three exclusive wine bottles in February 2019, with the donation valued at around €5,800.

“The donation was gifted around two years after Yorgen Fenech had commissioned the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, and around eight months since the PM knew Fenech was one of the suspects,” Cassola said.

On Friday, reports emerged that Fenech had gifted the Muscat three bottles of Pétrus, a premier Bordeaux red wine during a birthday party at the PM’s Girgenti residence.

The February party at Girgenti Palace made headlines after a video was leaked on WhatsApp showing Muscat and his wife Michelle leading guests in chanting an old Labour Party anthem.

The Times of Malta reported that Fenech gifted the Prime Minister three bottles of the premier Bordeaux red wine, Pétrus; one of the bottles was a 1974 vintage, the prime minister’s birth year, while the other two bottles – both 2007 vintages – mark the year Muscat’s twin daughters were born.

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