Economy Minister Chris Cardona has failed to locate hotel receipts to back up the €2,003 he incurred on extra expenses at a hotel he stayed at during an official solo weekend trip to Monaco in 2015.
These mysterious ‘extras’, which were over and above the €8,000 he had spent on accommodation, were flagged in a report by the National Audit Office published earlier this year. Although Cardona claimed the €2,003 for reimbursement, the NAO was unable to ascertain what the ‘extras’ consisted of as the minister only provided the final page of the invoice stating the total bill.
The Times of Malta requested the Data Protection Commissioner to ask Cardona for a copy of the invoice but this plan proved futile as the minister responded that “it does not possess such documentation”.
Cardona was similarly unable to provide the newspaper with a copy of the work programme he followed while on his weekend visit.
The minister’s refusal to delve into detail about his trip have given rise to questions about its legitimacy, particularly since it coincided with the annual Monaco Grand Prix. However, he has denounced suggestions that his trip was actually a Grand Prix holiday as “speculation and untruths”, arguing that he doesn’t even follow Formula One racing.
Parliamentary data shows that Cardona has frequently traveled alone, not only to Monaco, but to Dubai, Warsaw, Budapest and Ukraine. Although it is unusual practice for ministers to travel on work business without any civil servants, Cardona argued that he travelled alone so as not to waste money.