Yorgen Fenech offered to give jobs within his sprawling Tumas empire to supporters of Edward Zammit Lewis, Times of Malta is informed.
The offer came several months after Zammit Lewis complained to the former Tumas CEO how the “Laburist Ġaħan” (Labourite fools) were only interested in politicians who could dispense favours and patronage.
Fenech made the ingratiating offer to Zammit Lewis in September 2019, soon after the MP had been promoted from the backbench to European affairs minister.
The Tumas CEO, who two months later was accused of complicity in journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, said the entry-level vacancies were just the sort of jobs politicians usually asked for.
Zammit Lewis was made justice minister a couple of months after Fenech’s arrest and arraignment.
Times of Malta is informed that from as early as 2014, Zammit Lewis would on occasion ask Fenech for his help in finding a Tumas job for people who had sent a CV to the tourism ministry, which he headed at the time.
An inquiry into the murder of Caruana Galizia recently highlighted the worrying links between policies and big business.
Prime Minister Robert Abela has so far shunned calls for Zammit Lewis to resign over his cosy relationship with Fenech, which continued even after the Tumas magnate was outed as the owner of 17 Black, an offshore company linked to government corruption.
'I try help constituents in many ways'
Zammit Lewis told Times of Malta: “As a politician and representative of the people, I try to help my constituents in many ways, this includes guiding them to find employment.
“This, irrespective of whether it is in the public or the private sector, is on a merit basis.
“This is a normal practice among politicians, particularly members of parliament”.
Cutajar turned to Fenech for constituents' jobs
Rosianne Cutajar, who resigned from cabinet in February over her links with Fenech, is known during her time as Qormi mayor to have turned to the businessman when certain constituents asked for her help in finding a job.
Sources familiar with the exchanges between the pair described how Cutajar also sought sponsorship for her local football nursery from Fenech, and even tried to drum up business for an egg supplier with the Hilton hotel, which falls under the Tumas umbrella.
Cutajar stepped down from cabinet but stayed on as a Labour MP after Times of Malta revealed her role in a Mdina property purchase by Fenech involving hefty cash payments.
CVs for Electrogas jobs
E-mails found in data leaked from Electrogas also show instances of officials from Konrad Mizzi’s ministry sending CVs of their preferred candidates for potential jobs at the private power station company that Fenech used to head.
One internal e-mail exchange shows Fenech even asked the company to consider a more expensive bid for a security services contract at the power station following a request from the government.
“I was asked to give a push to [redacted] if the price is right,” Fenech said in e-mail.
Upon being informed internally that cheaper competing bidders existed, Fenech replied: “I can ask him to reduce. Who is competitor?... please hold on as request was from GOM and I don’t want to upset them,” Fenech wrote in the March 2017 Electrogas e-mail exchanges.
On yet another occasion, Mizzi’s former permanent secretary passed on a request the ministry received from a company hoping to provide communications equipment to the tanker supplying LNG for the power station.
“I presume it’s just a local company speculatively trying for more work. In Malta, something like this coming from ministry’s office would generally end in a more favourable result I’m told :)”, one former top Electrogas employee drily noted about the request from the ministry.
Mizzi resigned in disgrace a few days after Fenech’s arrest.
He was later kicked out of the Labour Party’s parliamentary group after Times of Malta and Reuters revealed Fenech’s role in the Montenegro wind farm deal.
Mizzi was questioned by police last summer over his chats with Fenech as part of an investigation into trading in influence by the former energy minister.
No further action has been taken by the police against Mizzi.