Prime Minister Joseph Muscat accepted an expensive Bvlgari watch from Yorgen Fenech, the business tycoon charged with complicity in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Lovin Malta is informed.
Lovin Malta asked Muscat to confirm or deny the information but the outgoing Prime Minister has refused to reply.
Sources said Fenech gave the white-gold watch to Muscat in Christmas 2014 and was not the only gift the businessman gave to the Prime Minister throughout the years.
The watch was apparently one of only 25 watches that was designed for the occasion of Malta’s accession to the EU in 2004. Fenech’s late father, the respected businessman George Fenech, had bought several of the limited edition watches when they were released.
The watch given to Muscat was #17 of the collection, chosen specifically because it was the favourite number of George Fenech. Ironically, 17 Black is the name of a secret Dubai company owned by Yorgen Fenech which is at the centre of corruption allegations.
Sources told Lovin Malta that the watch cost around €20,000 back in 2004 and had significantly risen in value by the time it was given to Muscat.
Accepting gifts from people who may have an interest in your decision making goes against the Code of Ethics for Ministers.
Earlier this month, Lovin Malta had revealed that Muscat and Fenech exchanged frequent text messages with each other, painting a clearer picture of the intimate relationship that Muscat had played down when he had first been asked when he last met Fenech.
Fenech, who is charged with complicity in Caruana Galizia’s murder, has already twice requested a Presidential Pardon to turn State evidence but was refused, first by Muscat himself and secondly by Cabinet. Fenech is challenging the decisions in court.
Muscat’s former Chief of Staff Keith Schembri is also officially under investigation for Caruana Galizia’s murder and Fenech’s court statements have already led to multiple resignations and sideline investigations.
Muscat, who is currently on holiday, pledged to step down as Prime Minister on January 12th, shortly after Fenech began talking to police. Reports of Muscat’s imminent resignation emerged the day Lovin Malta reported that Muscat had been named by Fenech in his official police statement.
The story of Muscat’s watch gift is likely to bring back memories of when former Finance Minister Tonio Fenech had admitted receiving a clock from a businessman in the oil industry – a story the Labour Party and Muscat personally had milked significantly while in Opposition.
Yesterday Lovin Malta also revealed that Fenech attended the wedding of the Pilatus Bank Chairman alongside Muscat and Schembri.