Johann Buttigieg hoped to find a job with Yorgen Fenech, the Tumas Group businessman charged with the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia who is linked to alleged government corruption, upon leaving his post as the head of the Planning Authority.
“To tell you the truth, if at the time he would have offered me a job, I would [have gone to] work for him,” Buttigieg conceded to the UK Times.
Messages exchanged between the pair show the two men enjoyed a close relationship, with Buttigieg even suggesting that the two should “do business” together.
The suggestion came during a conversation in which Fenech offered to partner with Buttigieg on a property development he was looking to take over from Joe Portelli, the Gozitan construction magnate.
Buttigieg was appointed CEO of Malta’s Tourism Authority soon after he left the PA. He still occupies the position, despite numerous controversies, namely handing Konrad Mizzi a €90,000 contract soon after the disgraced former minister was booted out of Cabinet amid the political crisis in 2019.
His tenure as PA CEO was also subject to criticism as he oversaw rampant overdevelopment in the country. According to the report, 27.5% of Malta’s land is developed, a record in Europe, with more than 24,000 planning applications approved in the past four years.
“We cannot stop anyone [who following planning regulations laid down by government],” Buttigieg said, insisting that Malta should be considered a “city island”.
Buttigieg’s replacement, Martin Saliba, gave a more crude analysis:
“The country is moving into a more modern era, good or bad, and we have to accept it. Some beautiful houses were sacrificed along the way. But are we going to keep on looking back with nostalgia?”
The article, which takes a look at Malta’s construction sector, focuses on the overdevelopment taking place in Gozo, which has been subject to rampant speculation. Not even UNESCO sites like Ggantija are safe from development.
“There can’t be this level of building in Malta with only clean money, which suggests money laundering may be involved,” lawyer Claire Bonello said.
What do you think of the reveal?