The Prime Minister’s wife Michelle Muscat, who was named Volunteer of the Year today, was not in Malta to receive her national award, but she was photographed four days ago in the Bahamas with former CHOGM Head Phyllis Muscat.
The Bahamas Weekly announced that the wife of the Caribbean island’s Prime Minister, Patricia Minnis hosted a luncheon for Michelle Muscat on 2 December. The former head of CHOGM is a personal friend of the Prime Minister and Michelle Muscat, known to have travelled together in the past.
Meanwhile, Michelle Muscat was given the award by the Maltese Council for Voluntary Service – a State funded council. And the nation witnessed its leader, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, announce the news on Twitter.
The Prime Minister’s wife is at the centre of corruption allegations revealed in the run up to the May general election over the Panama Company Egrant, which is now subject to a magisterial inquiry. The news was first revealed by journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was assassinated on 16 October.
The Maltese Council for Voluntary Service is mostly composed of representatives of NGOs, and is chaired by the government representative, Nathan Farrugia. The council receives nominations from the public, and appoints a Selection Board that then chooses the winner.
The Board that chose Michelle Muscat award was composed of Noel Camilleri, Doris Bingley and Trevor Fenech. The selection process was coordinated by Mario Pace Parascandolo, the Chief Executive Officer of council, Mr Farrugia told The Shift.
The award for Michelle Muscat was collected by a representative of the Marigold Foundation, which she chairs.
The foundation came under scrutiny because of a charity project endorsed by Michelle Muscat when prison inmates employed to make curtains for the project were owed thousands of euros.
As the news hit social media, parallels were made with autocratic regimes. In Azerbaijan, the President’s wife is a regular recipient of official honours. The wife of former Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe was awarded the Philanthropist of the Year award in 2014, amid controversy.