Labour MP Ian Castaldi Paris has refused to confirm whether he filed a police report over threats to his family he allegedly received over an affidavit implicating fellow PL MP Rosianne Cutajar in a controversial property deal.
Questioned by Lovin Malta, Castaldi Paris said he cannot comment on whether he reported the threats to the police, as he told Standards Commissioner George Hyzler that he would.
“Please understand its sensitivity and that I must ensure my family and I are safe,” he said.
Castaldi Paris also refused to comment on whether he knows the identity of the person who had allegedly entered his office to threaten his family if he passed on the affidavit to the authorities.
“Please just understand this is very serious and the situation is not pleasant at all. Rest assured all precautions are being taken even more now that this came public.”
In his report, Hyzler noted that the existence of an affidavit implicating Cutajar and administered by Castaldi Paris, a notary, was first flagged by Times of Malta last February.
Times of Malta reported that Hyzler was in possession of this affidavit, and although the Standards Commissioner refuted this version of events, he was eventually able to view the sworn statement from the laptop of Times journalist Ivan Martin.
In this alleged affidavit, Joseph Camilleri alleged that Cutajar and her aide Charlie Farrugia were refusing to refund him €46,500 he had given each of them as brokerage fees for the promised sale of a Mdina property to Yorgen Fenech.
Although a promise of sale was signed, the deal collapsed after Fenech was arrested for the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. However, Camilleri ended up signing a separate contract with another company owned by the Fenech family a year later.
A day after Times published this report, Hyzler summoned Camilleri to testify about it.
Camilleri testified that since he enjoyed a personal relationship with Castaldi Paris, he had asked the MP to tell Prime Minister Robert Abela to pressure Cutajar to return the money.
He said that Castaldi Paris had suggested drafting an affidavit because he didn’t want to speak to the Prime Minister without any kind of evidence in hand. However, Castaldi Paris subsequently told him there was no reason to speak to Abela after all because the story was published in the media.
Camilleri then ripped up the affidavit because he could “sense that trouble was coming”.
Castaldi Paris refused to testify about the affidavit, first citing professional secrecy and then – after Camilleri released him from this obligation – insisting that he needs to see it first and refusing to even confirm whether Camilleri had written an affidavit in his presence.
However, he did confirm that he wasn’t in possession of the affidavit himself and said he didn’t know how The Times had gotten hold of it.
The MP then told Hyzler that the day after his first testimony, a stranger entered his office to threaten him that his family could suffer some kind of consequence if the affidavit is released.
“I think I will file a police report to request protection because this is the second time [such threats] happened,” Castaldi Paris said. “I don’t, but anyway, just for the record.”
Hyzler concluded that Castaldi Paris’ role “in the affidavit story and its release to the media remains ambiguous at best”.
The Standards Commissioner’s report concludes that Cutajar most likely received €46,500 as a brokerage fee, that she didn’t declare this income in breach of parliamentary ethics, and that she should consequently be investigated by the tax authorities.
Cutajar has denied receiving any kind of brokerage fee, insisting that all the money from the deal went to Farrugia, but has confirmed receiving a €9,000 birthday present from Fenech.
Castaldi Paris, who competes against Cutajar on the eighth district, refused to comment on the report or his alleged role in the affidavit implicating his parliamentary colleague.
Cover photo: Ian Castaldi Paris and Rosianne Cutajar (second and third from right) share a coffee with ministers Owen Bonnici, Edward Zammit Lewis and Michael Farrugia in May 2020