Michelle Muscat, the wife of former disgraced Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, milked the public coffer to the full, through hundreds of thousands of donations, sponsorships, freebies and works in kind, particularly from government quangos controlled by her husband’s political appointees.
The ‘independent’ chief of the financial services regulator, Joseph Cuschieri, a close collaborator of Keith Schembri and handpicked by Muscat for his post, was Michelle Muscat’s largest donor
The information submitted in parliament in reply to questions by PN MP Claudette Buttigieg, shows that Cuschieri who is married to President George Vella’s daughter, signed off some €170,000 in cheques for the Marigold Foundation ‘charity’.
The Shift has revealed that Michelle Muscat grabbed control of the Foundation, with close to €1 million in assets, for a token €100.
Between 2015 and 2018, when Cuschieri headed the Malta Gaming Authority, he gave Marigold €120,000 in public funds as sponsorships. His benevolence, using public funds, continued when he switched roles and became the CEO of the Malta Financial Services Authority in 2018.
In his first two years at the helm of the ‘independent’ regulator, Cuschieri ‘helped’ Michelle Muscat with two annual donations of €26,000 and €25,000 each.
Cuschieri was handpicked by Joseph Muscat’s government to succeed Joe Bannister at the helm of the MFSA and given a financial package of €11,500 a month, excluding additional benefits.
Disgraced former Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi also contributed substantially to the Muscat charity.
His successor, Julia Farrugia Portelli said that under the responsibility of Mizzi, the Marigold Foundation was given free use of one of the Mediterranean Conference Centre’s main halls, vouchers for free lunches at the ITS training restaurants and a €1,000 donation from the Malta Film Commission.
The latter is managed by Film Commissioner Johann Grech, whose wife Maria was Michelle Muscat’s personal assistant, also paid through public funds.
While there are more answers to parliamentary questions expected on the issue, an analysis by The Shift shows that other Ministries and State entities contributed massively to Michelle Muscat’s charity using public funds.
These include tens of thousands of euros in donations and sponsorships through the Health and Education Ministries and through Enemalta, Water Services Corporation, Transport Malta, Infrastructure Malta, MIP and many others.
These direct contributions do not include the transformation of a dilapidated building in Marsa into the headquarters of the Marigold Foundation. Works on the refurbishment of this building, including its contents, were also paid by taxpayer funds, through the Ministry for the Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity.
Various tenders issued for works connected to ‘Marigold Place’ are estimated to have cost close to €1 million.