The Daphne Caruana Galiza Foundation expressed concern at the lack of records by the Office of the Prime Minister of any meetings held between Yorgen Fenech and former prime minister Joseph Muscat or minutes of meetings he held with government officials between 2013 and 2017.
This information emerged from a Freedom of Information request filed by the Foundation about meetings held between Fenech, the alleged mastermind behind the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, and government officials and staff.
“Documenting meetings, including minutes of discussions and decisions, is in the interests of transparency, accountability and good governance. The Office of the Prime Minister’s failure to keep proper records of the meetings with Fenech raises our concern that this was a deliberate act of omission,” the foundation said in a statement.
A previous request had revealed there were at least 26 meetings between Fenech and government officials at Castille between 16 October 2013 and 24 March 2017. Several of the meetings were more than an hour-long and at least one meeting lasted almost three hours.
It did not, however, include any information about meetings that Fenech had with Muscat when he was prime minister or any information about meetings Fenech had at Castille after 24 March 2017. A follow-up complaint was filed requesting information about meetings held from 25 March 2017 to 18 November 2019, the day before Fenech’s arrest and about meetings Fenech had with Muscat during his two terms as prime minister.
The Principal Permanent Secretary replied that “no additional information is available at this Public Authority, besides that already published in the original reply”.
In reply to separate Freedom of Information requests for the agenda and minutes of the meetings Fenech held with particular OPM officials and staff members, as well as the names and designations of any other individuals who were present at any point during those meetings, the Principal Permanent Secretary replied: “this Public Authority does not hold the requested documents.”
Of the 26 known meetings Fenech had at OPM from 16 October 2013 to 24 March 2017, five were with former chief of staff Keith Schembri; 19 with former minister Konrad Mizzi; one with former home affairs minister Michael Farrugia, and one with Lindsey Gambin, Mizzi’s aide.
The foundation pointed out that both Schembri and Mizzi were implicated in corruption together with Fenech and his secret company, 17 Black through the Electrogas project and Enemalta’s acquisition of the Mozura wind energy farm in Montenegro.
On the day of his meeting with Fenech, Farrugia ordered the Planning Authority to allow high-rise developments in Mrieħel – a decision that enabled the construction of a high rise project by partners in the Electrogas project: Gasan Group and Tumas Group, it said.