The standards commissioner found Rosianne Cutajar guilty of breach of ethics for failing to declare money received on the sale of property in the annual assets return presented to parliament.
However, the facts surrounding the complaint are in this case more telling of the intrigue which has shattered our country’s reputation and brought about its greylisting than the report’s conclusion.
The report confirms that, at least three months after this newspaper revealed Yorgen Fenech to be the owner of 17 Black, Cutajar saw it fit to entice him into buying the Mdina property. Within weeks, she received from him €40,000 in cash. So, an MP working as a commissioner at Castille, considers it appropriate and worth taking the risk of accepting to be at best a courier of €31,000 cash and of accepting a €9,000 cash gift from the same person who, together with the Castille trio, was riddled with allegations of financial crime.
Could she not see beyond her friendship with the businessman? Or did she think that, like Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi, she too would be protected by Joseph Muscat and then by Robert Abela? Or, maybe, having been a commissioner at Castille in the same building with Muscat, Schembri and Mizzi, she thought she had enough on them to get away with this?
So many questions may be raised to try to understand her behaviour but all return one reply: this behaviour is not the standard of a politician that this country needs or deserves and whichever prime minister retains her in his parliamentary group is being dishonest about his wish to get Malta off the FATF grey list.
Abela should consider himself lucky that Standards Commissioner George Hyzler decided that part of the complaint which questioned Cutajar’s judgement in this regard was time-barred. Can you imagine how many members of government would have a problem had Hyzler decided her liaison with Fenech after November 2018 was unethical? Many MPs testified before the public inquiry on their relationship with Fenech and, indeed, Abela was quick to settle the score when he declared that it was only wrong to remain in contact if the person is known to be a murder suspect but not if there are allegations of financial crime.
There is another fact of interest in this report. MP Ian Castaldi Paris, a notary by profession, took the seller’s affidavit with the request to inform the prime minister. Castaldi Paris declared he did not speak to Abela and could not speak of the affidavit since he did not have a copy. But we know how persistent people can be, so my question is: was Castaldi Paris the only Labour MP who was aware of Cutajar’s dealings well before the story broke? Was any other Labour MP also asked to take these facts to Abela before the story broke? And did any one of them do so?
This move reminds me of Konrad Mizzi’s snakes and ladders game. Move down the ladder to retain your parliament seat and get re-elected to clean your record
So how long has Abela known of Cutajar’s dealings?
The last interesting fact I will mention here is that Cutajar gave Hyzler copies of her own chats with Fenech as these were given to her by the police under disclosure. Forget that everyone seems to have lost their chats with Fenech.
What is even more important is that an MP was interrogated by the police. For the police to provide Cutajar with copies of her own chats, then she must have been interrogated under caution on her participation or, at least, knowledge of facts which are of interest in the investigation of crime.
So, we have yet another MP who has been interrogated by the police on her involvement or knowledge of facts of interest in a police investigation and who is being allowed by Abela to retain her seat.
Though some may argue that an MP must have the stamina and endurance to sail through even a police interrogation of this sort, it is clear that Abela’s decision to retain Cutajar within his parliamentary group once again shows him acting in the same way as Muscat. This move reminds me of Konrad Mizzi’s snakes and ladders game.
Move down the ladder to retain your parliament seat and get re-elected to clean your record. Only we know that did not work well for Malta.
Despite this, Abela has not learnt from Muscat’s mistakes. This is not the behaviour of a prime minister who wants to get this country off the grey list.
This is only the behaviour of a leader of a party who is willing to sacrifice Malta because he is unable or does not want to take the decisive action needed to stamp out the filth that has penetrated his government.
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