Joseph Muscat’s claim this morning that a 2004 limited edition Bvlgari watch was given to the protagonists of Malta’s EU accession negotiations has been rubbished by those involved.
The outgoing Prime Minister made the claim in a warped attempt to deflect his admission that he received the expensive watch from Yorgen Fenech in December 2014.
Fenech, who today is the main suspect in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, was at the time of the gift negotiating aspects of his power station deal with government. It is not the only gift Fenech gave Muscat.
Muscat argued this morning that while he left his watch to the State, no other watches were found in the State inventory, despite all the EU accession team having been given one.
Lovin Malta reached out to Malta’s former EU accession team to verify Muscat’s claims.
Chief EU negotiator Richard Cachia Caruana and former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil totally denied receiving the watch.
The family of former President Eddie Fenech Adami said they too were not aware of any such watch.
Meanwhile, sources close to former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi also flatly denied that he received any watches as gifts.
The sources added that the only gift Gonzi’s administration received for the EU accession treaty was the Maltese flag used in the Irish ceremony (Ireland at the time held the EU presidency). This was donated to Heritage Malta.
Malta’s first EU Commissioner Joe Borg also denied receiving a watch.
Speaking on One Radio this morning, Muscat claimed watches were given to all the EU accession team but these were never declared or left to the State. He also claimed he knew exactly who owned #1 of the 25 limited edition watches. However, he did not name the person.
Lovin Malta has asked Muscat to clarify his comment and substantiate his claims, given the denials received. No response has been forthcoming from him yet.
Meanwhile, Lovin Malta also spoke to the watch’s creator Sandro Azzopardi who said he did not recall the watch having been donated to any public figures. He said he had no idea if anyone gave them out as gifts but he would have remembered if they were donated officially.
Azzopardi said the watch has a market value of between €12,000 and €17,000.
According to Lovin Malta sources, Fenech acquired the watch because his father, the respected businessman George Fenech, had bought several of the watches back in 2004. One of these watches, which was number #17, was allegedly given by Yorgen Fenech to Muscat as a Christmas gift in 2014.