Prime Minister Robert Abela and Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar have not yet taken any action against Parliamentary Secretary Alex Muscat, despite a breach of his employment contract while he worked at Castille.
The Shift revealed that in 2016 and 2017, when Muscat occupied the role of deputy chief of staff to then-prime minister Joseph Muscat, he was also providing services to Nexia BT as a paid consultant without the necessary authorisation. This was confirmed by Alex Muscat.
When pressed on the matter by the Board of Inquiry looking into journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, Muscat – who is now Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the cash-for-passports scheme – admitted that he had worked for Nexia BT as an “economic consultant”.
He insisted that he had done nothing wrong. “I did not ask for authorisation,” Muscat argued, because he felt that it was not necessary.
“Just as a lawyer need not, neither does an economist,” Muscat added. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree.
Muscat was receiving funds from Nexia BT while he was receiving a salary of €38,000 from the OPM as Keith Schembri’s deputy. Nexia BT is the firm that set up Panama companies for Schembri and Mizzi, and was a licensed agent to sell Maltese passports – a sector that Prime Minister Robert Abela assigned to Muscat last January.
Nexia BT’s IIP licence was suspended after the company’s partners were named in a court order related to money laundering.
Muscat has downplayed the incident reported by The Shift. Yet it does not negate the fact that he was in breach of his employment contract on grounds that require disciplinary measures.
The contracts signed with politically-appointed ‘persons of trust’, as was Muscat between 2013 and 2020, clearly dictate that “the prior approval of the permanent secretary of the Ministry concerned is required before public officers may engage in any form of business or employment outside their official duties”.
Asked to state what action will be taken on the matter, Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar did not reply. He is directly responsible for ensuring that public contracts are honoured by all OPM employees.
A few days ago, Prime Minister Robert Abela underlined the need for all members of his Cabinet to observe the Code of Ethics. But he is ignoring questions on the matter.
Asked to state whether Muscat’s actions were compatible with his “zero-tolerance” policy, the prime minister refused to answer.