Prime Minister Robert Abela has declined to denounce the conduct of former Planning Authority (PA) chief Johann Buttigieg following revelations by Times of Malta about his close ties with murder suspect Yorgen Fenech. 

Buttigieg, who is now CEO of the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA), expressed a willingness to do business with Fenech in Whatsapp messages between the pair in 2019. 

Questioned if this was acceptable conduct by Buttigieg, Abela echoed the MTA CEO’s defence that he had never actually done any business with Fenech. 

Abela was the PA’s lawyer for the bulk of Buttigieg’s five-year tenure there between 2014 and 2019. 

The Prime Minister said that he has instructed all CEOs of government entities to refrain from doing business outside of their public roles. 

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

“As a government, we are introducing a new mentality,” Abela said. 

Asked if it was acceptable for people in such roles to entertain business deals, Abela repeated that Buttigieg did not do business with Fenech. 

The MTA CEO has faced calls for his resignation from the PN, Repubblika and Moviment Graffitti. 

WhatsApp chats show Buttigieg openly discussed doing business with Fenech. He also introduced Fenech to Adrian Buttigieg, who has long been suspected of acting as a frontman for the PA chairman. 

Adrian Buttigieg told Times of Malta that he had not done any business with Johann after he was chosen to head the PA in 2014. 

The pair met with Fenech in September 2019 to discuss a potential investment in the Manoel Island project. 

Adrian Buttigieg said the investment never materialised. 

Fenech was arrested and charged in connection with journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder two months later. 

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