Updated 3.45pm with Repubblika statement
Junior minister Rosianne Cutajar must resign or be made to step aside following allegations linking her to a property deal with murder suspect Yorgen Fenech, Opposition leader Bernard Grech said on Sunday.
“Prime Minister Robert Abela should summon Rosianne Cutajar, demand an explanation and make her assume responsibility for what she did. And if she does not resign, he should sack her,” Grech said.
“She knew that she should not be doing business with 17 Black’s owner.”
Grech was reacting to a report published by The Sunday Times of Malta which revealed that Cutajar, who serves as parliamentary secretary for equality, is being chased to return €46,500 she allegedly received as a brokerage fee to arrange the sale of a €3.1m Mdina property to Fenech.
Fenech, a business mogul, had already been exposed as the owner of secret company 17 Black at the time of the promise of sale on the Mdina property was agreed. The deal eventually fell through when Fenech was arrested and charged with complicity in Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder.
Cutajar did not respond to questions about the deal and instead forwarded a letter her lawyer had sent to the property seller, disputing his claims for a refund.
She said on Sunday, following publication, that she had "always acted correctly" and would be defending her name if needed.
Reacting on Sunday morning in an interview on PN radio station NET FM, Grech said the report was also concerning as it suggested Cutajar was moonlighting as a property broker apart from her job in politics.
“As a government representative, she should be focused on her job,” he said. “If salaries are not good enough, we can discuss raising them. But she should not be doing this.”
Cutajar was a Labour backbench MP during the time the property deal was being negotiated, in May 2019. She was made a parliamentary secretary in January 2020.
Grech said the incident was further evidence of the “impunity” which characterised the Labour government.
“Labour talks about unity, but they are united in covering up for each other,” he said.
'Clyde Caruana has acknowledged his mistake' - Grech
In his brief interview, Grech also touched on Finance Minister Clyde Caruana’s calls for a new workforce policy for Malta, saying the minister and former JobsPlus chief seemed to be acknowledging his previous mistakes.
“As JobsPlus chief, he was the architect behind the mass importation of foreign workers. Now he’s realising the damage he caused,” he said.
Repubblika calls on PM to remove Cutajar
In a statement, Repubblika said that as Cutajar believed she had committed no wrongdoing, it was the Prime Minister's duty to remove her from office.
"Every day the state of impunity and the unacceptable closeness of politicians with businessmen and criminal figures is becoming clearer. These are the circumstances that led to the assassination of a journalist and to our country becoming notorious around the world," the NGO said.
Repubblika said the news was further evidence that the country's institutions were failing and that the FIAU was closing an eye to "obscenities committed by those in power".
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