Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi has denied planning to use his influence to expand St George’s Bay so as to grant a beach concession to the Hugo Group.
“In so far as any suggestion of political influence relating to a beach concession at St George’s Bay, such is totally unfounded since the Ministry for Tourism does not award land concessions,” the government said in a statement. “The existing concession [at St George’s Bay] was awarded by a previous administration.”
The allegation stems from a conversation between Hugo Group CEO Luke Chetcuti and a companion that was caught on camera by French TV programme Enquête Exclusive as part of a feature into Malta.
According to the French journalist, Chetcuti and his companion were complaining about a beach concession at St George’s Bay that was granted several years ago to the Eden Leisure Group, a business group owned by the Decesares.
He said he recently spoke about the issue over dinner with an unnamed minister, reportedly Economy Minister Chris Cardona, and that the minister had texted another minister, reportedly Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi.
“[Cardona] told him we must help the Chetcuti family…they have always helped us. The other minister said the beach was quite small but that he would see whether it could be enlarged.”
While the French TV programme bleeped out the names of the two ministers, both MaltaToday and Times of Malta reported they were references to Cardona and Mizzi.
As Tourism Minister, Mizzi has embarked on a project to expand four beaches across Malta, but St George’s Bay isn’t one of them.
On his part, Cardona merely said he has countless meetings with businesses, potential investors and all relevant stakeholders but that “due process is always followed in all cases”.
Commissioner for Standards George Hyzler has launched an investigation following a request by former Alternattiva Demokratika leader Arnold Cassola. Should he find any evidence of trading in influence, he will be obliged by law to report it to the police.