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White Flag project ‘an elaborate scam the Environment Minister fell for’ – PN

Kristijan Curavić + Herrera + Mark Farrugia
Croatian Kristijan Curavić (left) with Environment Minister Jose Herrera (centre) and Mark Farrugia the right-hand man of the Prime Minister's chief of staff Keith Schembri.

Environment Minister Jose Herrera was asked to explain the government’s involvement in the financing and promotion of the White Flag project following a probe by The Shift News.

Nationalist Party MP Jason Azzopardi, the shadow minister for the environment, asked Herrera what amount of taxpayers’ money was handed over to those behind the controversial project, making particular reference to Kristijan Curavić – the Croatian behind the project.

Curavić had faced accusations of being a fraudster by former employees and sponsors of his environmental projects in other countries.

“The Shift News has presented clear evidence of the elaborate scam behind the White Flag that is supposed to denote plastic free beaches,” Azzopardi said, describing the project as “a gimmick” endorsed by Herrera and other Ministers.

The Shift News revealed this week how Curavić won the endorsement of top officials in the Maltese government that led to White Flags being placed on seven beaches in Malta and Gozo.

Sources who spoke to The Shift News said the individuals were charging €25,000 a flag – totaling almost €200,000 from Malta in less than a year. Money paid for the sponsorship of White Flag beaches in Malta were transferred to a bank in Zagreb, Croatia, sources told The Shift News.

The PN presented a list of questions to the Minister, including:

  • How and when contact was established between Curavić and Herrera, and who was the intermediary?
  • What due diligence was conducted and by whom?
  • What amount of taxpayers’ money was paid to the Croatian?
  • Whether it was true that the Minister sent representatives to meet igaming companies in Malta to convince them to sponsor White Flags?

Until the Ministry provides satisfactory answers to these questions, the PN said it would regard this scheme as “a scam worth millions” that the Environment Minister fell for at the expense of Maltese and Gozitan taxpayers in another case of cronyism.

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