Pieter Omtzigt has requested that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) “looks into” whether the behaviour of Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar was in violation of the code of conduct when she criticised his report on Malta, defending the Electrogas deal, only for her relationship with Yorgen Fenech to later be exposed.
As PACE’s Special Rapporteur, Omtzigt was tasked with looking into the investigation into the assassination of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. His report, presented to the Assembly in June 2019, led to the launch of the public inquiry after two years of government delays.
Cutajar had addressed the Assembly, criticising Omtzigt’s report, with an aim to “weaken” his findings, Omtzigt said in his letter to Ingjerd SCHOU, the chairperson of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs at PACE.
The letter, with the additional signatures of over 30 members of the Assembly, states Cutajar failed to declare her involvement with Yorgen Fenech.
“Among other things she explicitly stated: ‘For example, paragraph 3 of the draft resolution makes conclusions and criticisms about eight different cases. None of these eight cases are the Galizia case’,” Omtzigt wrote.
The Dutch MP pointed out that “Caruana Galizia had written extensively on the Electrogas Affair, on the Panama papers and on 17 Black. These three topics were relevant both for the part on Ms Caruana Galizia and for the rule of law in Malta in general”.
Yorgen Fenech was revealed to be the owner of 17 Black, the Dubai company set up to transfer funds to the offshore companies of former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri and former Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi. Fenech has since been arrested in connection with the journalist’s murder.
“17 Black plays a pivotal role in the report and the in the investigations and is mentioned 14 times in the resolution and the report,” Omtzigt said before pointing out that it has now been reported that Cutajar was involved in a property deal with Fenech and to have received money from the transaction.
“Ms Cutajar is also reported to have been promised money by Mr Fenech. This promise took place before the debate [at PACE]. According to the Times of Malta, she accepted cash from Mr Fenech in August 2019, after the report but before his arrest,” Omtzigt told the committee.
He stressed that the Labour MP “has not filed a single declaration of interest” at PACE, and neither did she make any oral statement drawing attention to her links with Fenech.
“Under paragraph 7, 8 and 9 of the rules of conduct in the code of the conducts she should have made such a declaration in the case of a potential or actual conflict of interest or even better, she should have tried to resolve this conflict of interest before the debate,” according to the letter.
Omtzigt requested that the committee looks into whether Cutajar had any conflict of interest when signing amendments and speaking against the report in plenary. Alternatively, the committee could ask her to file her declarations of interest over the past three years.