Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he had no idea that Malta-based British business consultant Shiv Nair had been blacklisted by the World Bank over corruption allegations.

“No, I did not know he was blacklisted – we were not informed of that,” he told the media.

In Parliament on Tuesday, Nationalist MPs questioned the Prime Minister on Mr Nair, who had accompanied Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi on a trip to Qatar.

Speaking to journalists after a visit at the new Birkirkara headquarters of design and project management company QP, the Prime Minister yesterday reiterated there was “no kind of contract” between Mr Nair and the Maltese Government.

The intention, he said, had been that Mr Nair would be helping the Government by means of a letter of appointment. “But it was never followed up... this person never received payment from the Maltese Government,” said Dr Muscat.

This person never received payment from the Maltese Government

The idea was that this business consultant to Malta Enterprise would be paid €6,000 per year. “He won’t be getting paid now, because no contract has been signed and we were not aware of this blacklisting,” he said.

The Prime Minister stressed “this person” had been crucial in the setting up of a meeting “at very high level” between Mr Mizzi and the oil minister in Qatar. He went on to praise Mr Nair’s work saying: “I think he fulfilled his role in a very significant way.”

Before Mr Nair’s engagement with Malta Enterprise, the Prime Minister said, “due diligence was carried out”. “That which is being alleged did not result to us then,” he said, adding that he was still waiting for confirmation on the blacklisting from the international authorities.

The World Bank’s website states that a Pradeep S. Nair from London was permanently blacklisted in 1999 and as a result, ineligible to be awarded World Bank-financed contracts.

Shivshanker Pre Nair, also from London, received the same sanction in 2000.

Mr Nair’s name is listed as Shiv Shankaran Nair on the website of La Vallette Corporation Ltd and of the British North Borneo Company Ltd, and is part of both Malta-registered companies’ management team.

On Tuesday, MP George Pullicino insisted he was the same person mentioned twice by the World Bank and claimed Mr Nair tried to use a different name to evade the blacklist, unsuccessfully.