Article updated at 6:20pm to include Evarist Bartolo’s response
The vast majority of Labour MPs have displayed reluctance in declaring the extent of their relationship with Tumas Group CEO Yorgen Fenech, who was last year revealed to be the owner of the secret Dubai company 17 Black.
However, there were three notable exceptions, with deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, Education Minister Evarist Bartolo and parliamentary secretary Clint Camilleri denying having ever had any relationship with Fenech whatsoever.
Lovin Malta sent e-mails to every sitting MP in the wake of a report that PN MPs Hermann Schiavone and Kristy Debono had met up with Fenech to request the sponsorship of a room for a political rally. Shortly afterwards, Schiavone announced he was suspending himself from the PN while he clears his name, in what was the first political resignation since the 2017 general election.
Clint Camilleri has denied having ever had a relationship with Yorgen Fenech
Lovin Malta sent every MP these two questions:
1. Have you ever had any business or professional relationship with Yorgen Fenech or any of his companies?
2. When was the last time you met Yorgen Fenech?
Within half an hour, parliamentary secretary for agriculture Clint Camilleri responded with a brief ‘No’, presumably for both questions.
Five hours later, PL Whip Byron Camilleri responded with this statement:
“This is an issue which was created by a faction of the PN to weaken the PN leader. It is their mess and they should deal with it. I have no further comments to make.”
As responses came in over the next two days, it became quite clear that MPs had been given some sort of political direction.
Byron Camilleri’s response, which dodged the questions and shifted the onus onto the PN, was reproduced by 19 MPs – namely Clayton Bartolo, Alex Muscat, Robert Abela, Silvio Schembri, Edward Scicluna, Chris Agius, Silvio Parnis, Konrad Mizzi, Joe Mizzi, Roderick Galdes, Ian Borg, Deo Debattista, Rosianne Cutajar, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, Julia Farrugia Portelli, Aaron Farrugia, Chris Cardona, Edward Zammit Lewis and Michael Falzon.
Tumas Group CEO Yorgen Fenech
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna added a bit more explanation.
“As usual your paper [sic] is trying to deflect attention from the serious credibility issue the Opposition party puts itself into,” he said. “It is not whom politicians meet which matters, but the reasons for meeting.”
However, it seems that deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne decided to take a different direction.
“I have never met and I have no business or professional relationships with Mr Yorgen Fenech,” Fearne, who has been tipped as a potential successor to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, responded.
Education Minister Evarist Bartolo responded similarly.
“[I have] no business or professional relationship with Mr Fenech and have never met him,” he said.
The other PL MPs, including Joseph Muscat, haven’t responded as of the time of writing.
Lovin Malta also received several responses from Opposition MPs and will be publishing them in a separate article.
Cover photo: Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne. Photo: Partit Laburista