Labour leader Robert Abela has denied reaching a deal with former MP Ian Castaldi Paris to nominate him as parliamentary Speaker, in exchange for him not contesting the general election.
“It was spin reporting - I exclude it. There was never any such discussion between us,” he told Times of Malta on Tuesday.
Abela was reacting to a report on Nationalist Party media Net News that Abela had reached a secret electoral agreement with the former party backbencher.
Castaldi Paris announced last December that he will not be contesting the election, after Times of Malta exposed how he had been investigated by tax officials over hundreds of thousands of euros in undeclared wealth.
Castaldi Paris was investigated by the Tax Compliance Unit on the back of a red flag raised by a local bank some two years ago.
Sources privy to the audit said the MP’s “unexplained wealth” hovered close to €1 million.
The MP insists that the amount of previously undeclared income is significantly lower, though he has not elaborated. According to his obligatory financial filings, Castaldi Paris has a far more modest €18,200 in bank savings.
Castaldi Paris became an MP in 2020, through a casual election to replace former minister Chris Cardona on the eighth district.
A former Nationalist mayor of Lija, he switched to Labour in 2015 and contested the general election with the PL for the first time in 2017.
In October last year, he was removed from parliament’s Public Accounts Committee following media reports that he had discussed buying luxury London property with murder suspect Yorgen Fenech.
Although he had claimed he was “bluffing”, the matter was taken up by tax officials who roped in their UK counterparts.
Soon afterwards, Times of Malta exposed how a tax audit into Castaldi Paris had uncovered hundreds of thousands of euros in “unexplained wealth”.