Parliamentary secretary Rosianne Cutajar solicited “help” from 17 Black owner Yorgen Fenech for a political survey in her district in 2019, once again indicating the close relationship between the pair.
Fenech readily agreed to her request, assuring the MP: “I will always be there to help you”, in an exchange on June 3, 2019.
In another exchange seven days later, Fenech gave his assurance that his door was always open to her.
“I had to give you some money,” he added, with Cutajar replying that they could speak about it at a later date.
The exchange came just a few weeks before Cutajar stood up in the Council of Europe to criticise a reference to 17 Black and other corruption cases in a report drawn up by Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt about journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death.
17 Black had been mentioned in a leaked e-mail, revealed in 2018, as the company that would pump up to €2 million into offshore structures set up by former government officials Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri.
Sources said the exchanges between the pair show Cutajar offered to help Fenech draft a rebuttal the day after fresh allegations about him emerged on Xarabank.
David Thake, now a PN MP, had alleged that Fenech offered €50,000 to the Nationalist Party’s leadership if David Casa failed to get re-elected.
After being informed that Fenech was going to issue a denial, Cutajar sent him a message saying: “Would you like me to help you write it?”
Fenech sent the MP a draft of his denial, with Cutajar giving it her stamp of approval
Fenech sent the MP a draft of his denial, with Cutajar giving it her stamp of approval.
Cutajar has continued to ignore repeated written questions about the ethics of her behaviour, a week after Times of Malta exposed how she received a bagful of cash from Fenech for her role in brokering a €3.1 million property sale.
The MP has never made any specific reference to receiving cash, or financial support to carry out political surveys, in her mandatory transparency filings.
When questioned outside parliament last week, Cutajar said she never did business with Fenech, without explaining why she received cash from him.
Cutajar had taken a €9,000 cut from a €40,000 pile of cash passed on to her by Fenech as part of the property deal.
She is separately being chased to repay an alleged €46,500 brokerage fee she took from the Mdina property seller.
Standards Commissioner George Hyzler is carrying out an investigation into the MP’s ethical conduct.
Prime Minister Robert Abela has declined to take any action against her pending the investigation.
Cutajar has been given the prominent role by Abela of piloting a draft law to decriminalise cannabis for personal use.
In November 2019, Fenech was charged with complicity in the 2017 murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The unanswered questions
Times of Malta sent Cutajar a written request for comment on February 18, with a reminder the following day. Both requests were ignored.
We asked Cutajar:
In June 2019, shortly before a speech in the Council of Europe criticising a reference to 17 Black in the Omtzigt report, you solicited cash from 17 Black owner Yorgen Fenech to carry out a political survey in your district. How come you felt comfortable asking Fenech for money?
Do you not feel your speech in the Council of Europe was unethical given your underlying relationship with Fenech?
That very same month, you offered to help Fenech write a statement rebutting corruption allegations. Why is a government MP offering such services to Fenech?