The Malta Tourism Authority is refusing to give the Times of Malta access to the employment contract of Michelle Buttigieg as its representative in New York, citing “trade secrets”.

A request by this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act was turned down by the MTA, saying that it cannot divulge Ms Buttigieg’s contract because it is considered to be a “trade secret”.

Michelle ButtigiegMichelle Buttigieg

“It is imperative to note that Ms Michelle Buttigieg is not an employee but is providing a service on the basis of a service agreement. Thus, the commercial value of the agreement is important,” the MTA said.

The Times of Malta has now asked the MTA to review its decision according to the law.

This newspaper is arguing that since Ms Buttigieg is paid out of public funds and that no public call was issued prior to her engagement, the commercial sensitivity being quoted does not apply.

Ms Buttigieg is the owner of Buttardi Collection, a costume jewellery business, which has its head office in New York. Michelle Muscat Tanti, the Prime Minister’s wife, is listed as being in charge of marketing, sales and designs in the company’s Europe sales office, which has an address in Burmarrad. 

Ms Buttigieg, who sources close to the MTA said was receiving about €60,000 a year, apart from other perks and benefits, operates in her official function from an office at Malta’s Permanent Representation to the United Nations. 

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