Economy Minister Silvio Schembri has promised to present evidence of rent payments he made on two constituency offices in Siġġiewi and Luqa, after an accusation he breached ethics by using offices provided to him by construction businesses.
The NGO Repubblika has asked the standards commissioner to investigate the matter after reports revealed that Schembri uses two properties that do not belong to him as constituency offices and deploys ministerial staff to run them.
The office in Luqa belongs to the secretary general of the Malta Developers Association, Paul Attard, while the one in Siġġiewi belongs to Anton Camilleri, who also sits on the MDA executive council.
Yesterday, Schembri said he paid rent for his offices and would be providing documentation to support this claim.
Asked if he thought there was a conflict of interest in him renting from businesses in the construction industry when he is responsible for the Lands Authority, Schembri said the economy portfolio means that he has contact with people in virtually every form of business.
“I am responsible for the economy, land and EU funds so I have contact with practically every person in business,” he said.
“So, if I rent from Ċikku he may have a property that belongs to Lands and if I rent from Peppu he may have some company and there could be a connection.
“I do pay rent for the offices. Now that a report is being compiled, I will also have the opportunity to present documents, including bank transactions that show payments made on the property going back many years.”
Schembri was asked in parliament last month by Nationalist MP Rebekah Borg whether he paid rent on his offices and whether he was using ministry staff to run them.
He refused to reply, saying yesterday that standing orders prevented him from doing so in parliament.