Parliamentary secretary Rosianne Cutajar took a €9,000 cut from a €40,000 pile of cash handed to her by murder suspect Yorgen Fenech as part of a 2019 Mdina property deal, Times of Malta can reveal.
Cutajar partnered up with her associate Charles Farrugia, known as it-Tikka, to broker the €3.1 million property deal between Fenech and the property seller Joseph Camilleri.
The Labour MP, who at the time served as commissioner for reduction of bureaucracy, met the 17 Black owner in August 2019 for the cash exchange as the parties in the property sale moved closer to signing the final deed. Three months later, Fenech was arrested in connection with Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.
Cutajar did not respond to a request for comment by Times of Malta about her handling of the cash and her links with Fenech.
Fenech handed over the €40,000 cash, which amounted to a one per cent brokerage fee of €31,000, to be passed on to Farrugia, and an extra €9,000 for the Labour MP for her role in the deal.
Cutajar is separately alleged to have taken a second cash broker’s fee of €46,500 from the same deal, this time paid to her by the owner of the Mdina property.
No reference to the €9,000 cash payment she took from Fenech or the €46,500 she is alleged to have pocketed from the seller after the promise of sale agreement was signed in May 2019, was made in Cutajar’s asset declaration for that year.
Standards Commissioner George Hyzler is evaluating a complaint about the MP’s conduct after Times of Malta had revealed she was being chased by the seller to repay the €46,500 alleged brokerage fee.
While Cutajar has disputed the seller’s claims for a refund, she has not denied being involved in the sale.
Prime Minister Robert Abela, who elevated Cutajar to a cabinet post last January, has declined to take any action against her pending the Standards Commissioner’s verdict.
Hyzler is in possession of a sworn statement by the property seller detailing how the Labour MP and Farrugia both refused to return their respective fees of €46,500 after the deal with Fenech fell through.
The sworn statement containing the allegations against Cutajar was administered by Ian Castaldi Paris, a fellow Labour MP.
The statement administered by Castaldi Paris had also highlighted the role of Pierre Lofaro, husband of judge Abigail Lofaro in the deal.
Caruana Galizia’s family had stood by the judge on the board overseeing the public inquiry into the journalist’s death following revelations of her husband’s role as a director of the company used to handle the property sale.
The signing of the final deed of sale fell through following’s Fenech’s arrest in November 2019 in connection with journalist Caruana Galizia’s murder.
The suspect’s uncle, Ray Fenech, later stepped in to buy the Mdina property.
Cutajar’s ties to Fenech
Cutajar is understood to have been a close friend of Fenech, helping broker the property deal even though the businessman’s links to 17 Black were already out in the open.
Last year, she refused to respond to what she described as “personal allegations” about the nature of her relationship with Fenech when questioned.
Cutajar was one of several MPs to have stood up in parliament to rebut corruption accusations by the opposition during an urgent debate called after the 17 Black revelations in November 2018.
The debate centred on the links between Fenech’s 17 Black and then government officials Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.
“The government bases itself on facts, not allegations,” Cutajar had said during the debate, while at no point declaring her proximity to Fenech during the same speech.
Cutajar did not reply when asked by Times of Malta on Friday if she had sought to verify the “allegations” with Fenech prior to her speech in parliament.