Finance Minister Tonio Fenech has distanced himself from a former member of his secretariat, who admitted bribery charges in court last week.

Noel Borg Hedley, 67, from Gżira admitted to receiving bribes from property developers JPM Brothers to reduce or waive fees owed to government departments that fell under the Finance Ministry in 2008. Mr Borg Hedley had been Mr Fenech’s canvasser and a member of the secretariat until 2007.

“The minister was not involved in any way in this case. He became aware of the allegations on November 5 last year and immediately referred the case to the police,” a spokesman for Mr Fenech said yesterday.

Mr Borg Hedley’s case has particular significance because, in 2009, JPM Brothers were contracted by Mr Fenech to perform works on his private residence in Balzan. The job ended in controversy after a subcontractor appointed by JPM Brothers alleged he was told the works on Mr Fenech’s residence were “a favour” in return for the minister’s alleged help to enable JPM Brothers sell the Jerma Palace Hotel.

Mr Fenech denied the allegations and instituted libel proceedings on the matter.

The court conditionally discharged Mr Borg Hedley, who was also given a perpetual interdiction.

ksansone@timesofmalta.com

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