A well-known producer sought to artificially inflate Malta’s Eurovision betting odds during the 2019 song contest.

Sources described to Times of Malta how Anton Attard turned to gambling magnate Yorgen Fenech in a bid to improve the odds being given to singer Michela. The contestant was chosen through Attard’s show X-Factor to represent Malta in 2019.

Concerns have been raised over the past week about the use of taxpayers’ money to fund this practice.

An investigation has been launched by Public Broadcasting Services Ltd into suspicions that part of the €650,000 budget for this year’s contest was used to boost Destiny’s odds with bookmakers.

Sources said the 2019 chats between Attard and Fenech indicate the suspected manipulation of betting odds was not a new phenomenon.

On the eve of Michela launching her song Chameleon in March that year, Attard asked Fenech how much was needed to improve the singer’s odds.

Acknowledging it would be difficult for Malta to win the contest, Attard said he nonetheless wanted to give Michela a push with bookmakers.

The spending of public money on betting is not only illegal but despicable- Attard

“How much do we need to get her high in the odds?” the producer asked Fenech.

The sources said Attard continued to chase Fenech to examine Michela’s odds and tell him what was needed to boost them.

Talk about paying to improve Michela’s odds was again initiated by Attard in May, when he accompanied the singer to the Eurovision song contest in Tel Aviv.

“Can you check how much we need to get it up a few places?” the producer asked Fenech.

The sources said the figure needed to boost Michela’s odds was never mentioned during the chat.

Fenech did, however, tell Attard that he had pressed on the matter.

Contacted by Times of Malta, Attard said all public money he administered was always spent in line with the objectives for which it was voted for.

“This means that during my tenure at PBS no public money was ever channelled in any way whatsoever for betting to enhance the winning chances of the Maltese song.

“The spending of public money on betting is not only illegal but despicable,” Attard said.

Attard stepped down from his role as PBS CEO in 2016 but has remained a regular fixture on the Eurovision circuit.

Asked to clarify if he ever engaged in these betting practices following his departure from PBS, Attard said he was only “responsible” for any public funding during his tenure at the national broadcaster.

He failed to explain why he was asking Fenech for help in boosting Malta’s odds for the 2019 Eurovision contest.

Singer Ludwig Galea, who represented Malta in the 2004 Eurovision contest, has also raised questions about these betting practices.

“What’s this formula all about? In my opinion, basically one uses considerable amount of money to constantly bet on one’s own horse/song/ team till the final minute,” Galea said in a Facebook post.

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