Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was aware Yorgen Fenech was a potential suspect in Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder since May 2018, Times of Malta is informed.
It was Dr Muscat who signed the order for the Malta Security Services to tap the phone of Mr Fenech, even though it is normally the Home Affairs Minister who should assume responsibility for such a measure.
However, the Security Services Act states: "Where it appears to him to be necessary to do so, the Prime Minister may exercise any of the powers of the Minister under this Act subject to the same review of the exercise of those powers as would apply to the exercise of those powers by the minister."
Multiple sources said the Prime Minister has been constantly updated with the state of the investigations for months.
I did not go on holidays, or on any yachts with Yorgen Fenech
Contacted by Times of Malta about his potential conflict of interest, the Prime Minister said he would only comment in detail once the investigations were over.
But he said he wanted to "clarify" he had last met with the prominent businessman at a "social event" last February, despite knowing he could have been behind the killing of the journalist in October 2017.
Earlier this month, Dr Muscat told Times of Malta he last met with Mr Fenech about a year ago.
He squarely dismissed rumours that he had met Mr Fenech on a yacht off France last summer.
"I did not go on holidays, or on any yachts with Yorgen Fenech," he said.
Focus on OPM
The focus has turned squarely on the Office of the Prime Minister after chief of staff Keith Schembri was arrested in connection with the murder.
Mr Fenech has requested a presidential pardon to tell all about the murder, reportedly telling investigators that it was the chief of staff who commissioned the murder of the 53-year-old journalist.
Dr Muscat is waiting for the opinion of the Attorney General and the Police Commissioner before taking a decision on the pardon. Critics say the Prime Minister should not be in a position to decide on a pardon which impacts directly a friend and chief of staff.
The businessman has also claimed while under interrogation that Mr Schembri tried to organise an escape to Dubai for Mr Fenech, a week before he was caught on his yacht attempting to flee.
Investigators have also arrested Dr Adrian Vella, Mr Fenech's doctor on suspicion that he was passing messages from the chief of staff to the businessman when he was being treated in hospital over the weekend.
More to follow
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us