A quick trip to Dubai which former prime minister Joseph Muscat took with his family, just days before stepping down, is under investigation by the Standards Commissioner, Times of Malta can confirm.

Contacted on Tuesday, a spokesman for Commissioner George Hyzler said he was looking into whether the former prime minister breached ethical codes when he refused to say who paid for the trip.

Last week, both the PN and the Democratic Party asked the commissioner to investigate the matter after Dr Muscat dismissed journalists’ questions about how he funded the expensive flights.

His only comment about the three-day trip at the end of the year was that it was paid for from his “personal private funds”. 

MPs are obliged to state if trips abroad are paid by any person or company that has an interest in the legislative process. If that is the case, MPs must also state whether the person or company paid for the trip in full or in part.

Breached ethical codes?

The Dubai trip raised eyebrows after it emerged that Dr Muscat, together with his wife and twin daughters, spent at least a fifth of their time away on planes and in airports.

Questions over the cost of the flights were also raised after a photo of Dr Muscat’s wife, Michelle, sitting in business class during the outward journey, had surfaced on social media. Times of Malta estimated that the Muscats would have paid around €15,000 for the flights if they all travelled in business class on both their outbound and return journeys, unless the family was upgraded.

Dr Hyzler can investigate cases either of his own volition or on the basis of a complaint. However, he can decide not to look into a complaint if he thinks an investigation is not warranted, if the complain is deemed trivial, frivolous or vexatious or if the complaint has not been made in good faith.

The Sunday Times of Malta revealed that the Permanent Commission Against Corruption is also probing Dr Muscat, this time over gifts he had received from businessman Yorgen Fenech, who is charged with being the mastermind behind the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Dr Muscat handed his resignation to President George Vella on Monday, a day after Dr Abela was elected PL leader. The new leader was sworn in as prime minister a few hours later.  

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