After being lambasted by the Standards Commissioner for a clear breach of ministerial ethics by accepting expensive wine from businessman and murder suspect Yorgen Fenech, ex-Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has resorted to spin to justify his actions.
Writing on his personal Facebook page, Muscat once again attempted to spread a false narrative that Nationalist politicians received expensive watches that they did not leave to the State.
Lovin Malta revealed last year that Muscat in December 2014 had accepted a rare watch as a gift from Yorgen Fenech, the businessman awaiting trial for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Fenech had given Muscat the watch from his father’s collection, a white-gold Bvlgari watch that was created to commemorate Malta’s accession to the EU. There were only 25 such watches produced at the time and they were bought by private collectors. Fenech’s father, the late George Fenech, had purchased several for himself.
Last year, Muscat justified this gift by saying that the other watches were also given to politicians involved in Malta’s EU accession and they had not been left to the State. However, this was strenuously denied by all the politicians involved in Malta’s EU accession and was also not substantiated by the seller of the watches at the time.
Now, hours after Muscat was admonished by Standards Commissioner for accepting expensive wine by Fenech in clear breach of ministerial ethics, Muscat once again used this narrative to curry favour.
“I remind you that one of the items I left to the State was a numbered watch, the same type that was given to politicians and other personalities in the time Malta entered the European Union. My watch is in the State’s possession. I wonder in whose cabinets of whose homes the rest remain. It’s actually clear at whose homes the watches can be found, but it seems everyone forgot all of a sudden,” he said.
Muscat, who famously claimed that he invited Fenech to his intimate birthday party in Girgenti on the advice of Malta’s Security Services, so as not to raise suspicions that Fenech was under investigation for murder, repeated that he always acted in the national interest.
Muscat said he may have been wrong in 2013 to not make a fuss about the fact that very few gifts were found registered to the State when he was first elected.
“When we were elected, we found barely anything and empty boxes,” he said, claiming to have not wanted to make a fuss back then to get on with moving the country forward.
Muscat said he disagreed with the Standards Commissioner’s report which he claimed based his conclusions on “perceptions not facts”.
“I think the Commissioner did not give enough weight to the exceptional circumstances of the case,” he said.
The Commissioner did not investigate the watch gift Fenech gave Muscat because that case is time-barred. The Commissioner can only investigate incidents that took place after his office was set up, which was in October 2018.
What do you make of Joseph Muscat’s response?