Charles it-Tikka Farrugia, the close associate of MP Rosianne Cutajar, is trying to take the fall over a controversial property deal involving Yorgen Fenech. However, well-informed sources and legal experts have rubbished his attempts to pass off a brokerage fee as an ‘ex-gratia’ payment.
“Simply saying that something is an ex-gratia payment does not make it so, especially when there is a wealth of evidence suggesting the contrary,” sources told Lovin Malta.
On 12th July, Farrugia submitted a letter to Speaker Anglu Farrugia claiming that he would be filing an income tax return to declare payments he received from the €3.1 million property deal, signed in 2019 when Fenech was known to be the owner of 17 Black but was yet to be arrested for Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination.
The letter, which was submitted ahead of a parliamentary committee for standards in public life meeting on the matter, has raised eyebrows among experts who spoke to Lovin Malta.
When something has been done ex gratia, it has been done voluntarily and not out of a contractual obligation. Farrugia insists that he was never a broker in the deal, had never played a part in negotiations, and had simply introduced the two parties.
However, Farrugia has indicated that he was a broker in the deal in the past, even telling Standards Commissioner George Hyzler that he did “all the work” on the deal.
He has even admitted that he was present for the signing of the €3.1 million promise of sale agreement and told Hyzler that he felt he was entitled to more brokerage fees.
Meanwhile, he even described Cutajar, who has distanced herself entirely from the claims, as his “co-broker” during the negotiations.
In total, €124,000 in brokerage fees were paid, with €93,000 coming from seller Joseph Camilleri and €31,000 from Fenech. Farrugia says all the fees went to him as a gift.
Cutajar has confirmed that Fenech did hand her over €31,000 in cash at the now infamous Porticello restaurant. She insists that she was tasked with handing over the money to Farrugia. However, she has admitted that Fenech’s did pass on €9,000 birthday gift for her over and above the payment.
Cutajar insists she had no part in the brokerage fees apart from mentioning Fenech as a potential buyer. Still, Hyzler has raised concerns that Cutajar should have declared the fee for tax if there was nothing wrong to take this money.
“It was Cutajar, without a doubt, that found the one who will buy the place. It was she who took the buyer to the spot. It was she who called to see the progress made on the purchase,” Hyzler said during a parliamentary committee meeting.
Both Cutajar and Farrugia are currently under investigation by tax authorities. Hyzler has told the committee that he did not know the tax authorities were investigating the matter and said that he if was informed he would have suspended his investigation.
What do you think of the ex-gratia claim?