MP Simon Busuttil got an uncharacteristically curt reply on Tuesday to his parliamentary question as to whether the prime minister’s chief of staff had any commercial interest in the film sector of the film studios – directly or indirectly.

Departing from the rather formal deflections and deferments of replies, the prime minister was brief and to the point: “No.”

However, it also emerged that Keith Schembri's wife has a company involved with the Film Commission.

Dr Busuttil has been digging around and asking a series of questions about the film studios, and on Monday it was revealed that a bid had actually been submitted for the Rinella site.

Read: No formal bids for film studios in Rinella

A call for expressions of interest was made in December 2015, and five companies replied, all of which went through to the second phase. The Malta Film Commission, which is currently running the film studios, issued a request for proposals in September 2016, which invited all five to submit bids.

The five were Golden Zephyr of the United States, two Italian companies – Island Productions and Sefat Spa – and Pinewood and Mediante, both from the UK.

It turned out from the PQ that Golden Zephyr did indeed submit a bid – however, this turned out to be technically non-compliant.

Read: One bid for film studio, but it was 'non-compliant’

The studios are currently being run by the Malta Film Commission. Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi said in a separate reply that since 2013, 48 productions had benefitted from grants through the commission, 16 of which had used the film studios.

In another PQ from the same series of questions, Dr Busuttil asked whether Mr Schembri had any interest in a company - separately identified to the Times of Malta as Temple Concierge - to which the prime minister replied that while Mr Schemrbi had no involvement, his wife did.

MFSA records show that Josette Schembri Vella is the sole shareholder of Temple Concierge, which offers concierge services to individuals and corporates.


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