Nationalist MP Kristy Debono admitted on Monday that she made an error of judgement when she sought a sponsorship from Yorgen Fenech, the owner of once-secret Dubai company 17 Black.
"Following reactions in the media, social media and various people I have spoken to, I now realise that meeting the CEO of Tumas group was an error of judgement on my behalf and I unreservedly apologise for the unnecessary controversy," Ms Debono, president of the PN's general council and shadow minister for economic affairs said.
The meeting was revealed by The Sunday Times of Malta. Ms Debono initially denied holding such a meeting and when pressed by the newspaper to state whether or not she had indeed met Mr Fenech, she asked for questions to be sent via e-mail.
In her statement on Monday, as she told the newspaper, she said she had held the meeting "with the sole intention to organise a political conference and on a non-profit making basis."
To this end, she said, she shortlisted a number of possible conference venues, in the St Julian's and Swieqi vicinities to discuss possible sponsorship of a small conference room. The sponsorship did not materialise.b
I wish to assure one and all that my stand against corruption remains as strong as ever
"The meeting was held in broad daylight, non-secretive and all above board. It was only to this end, and nothing else, that I conducted the said meeting.
"I wish to assure one and all that my stand against corruption remains as strong as ever," she said.
Last year, in a joint investigation by the Times of Malta and Reuters, Yorgen Fenech was identified as the owner of 17 Black, which had been named in leaked e-mails as one of two companies that would pay $2 million to Panama companies belonging to the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi.
The PN has called for the pair’s resignations over what it considers a major scandal blighting the country’s international reputation.
Earlier on Monday, Opposition leader Adrian Delia said he had not known that Ms Debono, who was accompanied by MP Hermann Schiavone, had met Mr Fenech.
He insisted, however, that this did not dent the party’s fight against corruption.
Mr Schiavone in a Facebook post on Sunday (see below) criticised The Sunday Times for carrying the story saying it was aimed at harming party leader Adrian Delia by attacking those close to him.
The post appears to have since been deleted.
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