The Prime Minister’s top aide, Keith Schembri, has won over €425,000 worth of government contracts since the Labour Party was returned to power in 2013.

Of that revenue, €318,000 was raked in from entities falling directly under his control at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), replies to freedom of information requests show.

Mr Schembri stepped down from the directorships of his business empire in March 2013 but maintained a direct financial interest in all the key companies, through a 99.9 per cent shareholding.

Just last month, Mr Schembri’s company Kasco won a €94,000 tender to install a new printing machine at the government printing press.

The printing press falls under the OPM’s control.

Since March 2013, his company has won a further €193,000 worth of contracts to supply paper to the government printing press.

In January of this year, the Malta Financial Services Authority, which also falls under the OPM’s remit, signed a €30,000, two-year paper supply agreement with Kasco.

This newspaper asked Mr Schembri the following questions:

“How would you respond to the allegation that you are abusing your position in government, or risking the appearance of abusing your position in government, by profiting from contracts from publicly funded bodies?”

“In general, why have you not placed your shares in your businesses in a blind trust during your time in office, and instructed your businesses to refrain from bidding for taxpayer- funded contracts?”

Replying, Mr Schembri said Kasco Paper was one of the biggest paper suppliers in Malta.

He said he had never intervened in the procurement process, and that all such procurement was done through open tendering which Kasco had participated in for 20 years.

“I am informed that income from government procurement, through the supply of paper, has not varied from that derived under previous administrations,” Mr Schembri added.

While replying to these questions, hecontinued to ignore earlier questions sent to him about the company 17 Black.

17 Black was listed as one of two target clients that would pay in $1 million to his once secret Panama company.

In a press statement following Daphne Project revelations, Mr Schembri said 17 Black was included in “draft business plans” for his business group.

Mr Schembri’s link to 17 Black comes from leaked e-mails sent by his financial advisers Nexia BT in December 2015.

Financial industry sources questioned why Mr Schembri was involved in “draft business plans”, seeing that he claims to no longer play a part in the day-to-day running of his business group.

Mr Schembri did not reply to questions from this newspaper asking how an offshore Panama company and “family trusts” in New Zealand featured in his business group’s plans.

The Prime Minister’s chief of staff also failed to answer why he needed a New Zealand trust, when he already had a BOV family trust in Malta. 

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