Alex Muscat, parliamentary secretary for citizenship, has failed to explain how in 2017, while working at the Office of the Prime Minister, he also received income from Nexia BT – the firm behind the Panama Papers debacle and an agent licensed to sell Maltese citizenship.
According to his income tax declaration for 2018, which lists Muscat’s income for 2017, the parliamentary secretary declared he received an income of €5,344 from Nexia BT Consulting Ltd, apart from his salary as Joseph Muscat’s deputy chief of staff.
Muscat was elected to parliament for the first time in June 2017. During that year, he served as the OPM’s deputy chief of staff with Keith Schembri as his boss.
The Shift asked the parliamentary secretary to explain his income from Nexia BT, particularly since he was employed full time at the OPM with a salary of €34,735 a year while occupying a very sensitive position.
He was also asked to explain the consultancy he gave to Nexia BT during his time as the prime minister’s deputy chief of staff, whether this was allowed by his employment contract and whether it was in line with the code of ethics for persons of trust employed in government ministries.
No replies were given.
In his income tax return, Muscat, 37, from Mosta, declared total earnings of €56,322 for 2017.
Muscat continued to work at the OPM even when he was elected MP, which would be unacceptable in any functioning democracy due to the separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislative.
His case was used as an example by the current OPM chief of staff Clyde Caruana, who justified retaining his role at the OPM while serving as MP.
He also declared an income of €15,746 for less than six months as an MP and €495 from the Mosta Local Council where he used to serve as an elected councillor before making it to the House of Representatives. Yet it is the income from Nexia BT that is being questioned.
Nexia BT Consulting Ltd is one of the companies set up by OPM insider Brian Tonna under the Nexia BT umbrella. The firm’s assets and those of its top employees have been frozen by court order following an investigation into passport kickbacks.
Since the Labour Party took power in 2013, Tonna’s companies received millions in government contracts, mostly through direct orders.
Its top representatives were also given the power to decide on the most controversial projects initiated by Joseph Muscat’s government, including the Electrogas power station and the deal that gave away three of Malta’s public hospitals.
Tonna is currently under money laundering investigations related to alleged kickbacks on the sale of Maltese passports to Muscat’s then-boss Keith Schembri. He was the one to set up three Panama companies for those at the top level of government.