Labour MP and notary Ian Castaldi Paris claimed in evidence to the Standards Commissioner that he had been threatened twice by unspecified people warning him not to talk about an affidavit he had drafted for the seller of the €3.1 million property in Mdina at the centre of the investigation into whether former parliamentary secretary Rosianne Cutajar had accepted brokerage fees related to the deal.
Property-seller Joseph Camilleri asked for the affidavit to be drawn up in a bid to ensure Cutajar and her associate Charles ‘it-Tikka’ Farrugia repaid €93,000 in brokerage fees when the deal collapsed because the buyer, Yorgen Fenech, was arrested in connection with the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The affidavit, commonly known as a sworn statement made in front of a legally-vested authority, was stamped by Castaldi Paris’ notarial seal on 1 December, 2020.
Camilleri also claimed that he had asked Castaldi Paris to intercede on his behalf, given that he was an MP with access to both Cutajar as well as prime minister Robert Abela.
Castaldi Paris refused to comment on whether he approached Abela on the matter and maintained that he had not involved himself in Cutajar’s affairs. When being interviewed by the Standards Commissioner, he refused to discuss the contents of the affidavit unless presented with a copy.
“I didn’t tell anyone or any entity about this affidavit, and yet someone came to my office, threatening me to not issue an affidavit if I did have one in my possession,” Castaldi Paris told Standards Commissioner George Hyzler on March 1 earlier this year.
In the second meeting between Hyzler and Castoldi Paris – held the following day because the MP claimed he could not breach professional secrecy rules unless Camilleri absolved him of his legal responsibility before proceeding further – the MP informed the commissioner that he had been threatened again.
“Yesterday’s meeting was leaked,” Castaldi Paris said.
“This morning, I was threatened by someone at the office yet again, this someone told me that they saw me coming to your office. This same person warned me again to not disclose the affidavit and that my family would be in danger if it came out,” he told the Standards Commissioner.
The affidavit had already been leaked to Times of Malta, who ran a story on March 1 that specifically referred to the document which had not yet been seen by Hyzler when the two meetings with Castaldi Paris occurred.
“I just wanted this to be on the record, from my end nobody knew about the meeting we had yesterday, not even my wife,” Castaldi Paris told Hyzler, later also stating that he was considering filing a report with the police since this was the second time he had been threatened.
While Castaldi Paris is not directly linked to the breaches of standards in public life act allegedly committed by Cutajar, or the cash exchanged in the property deal itself, the MP refused to provide any information beyond his association with Camilleri and the fact that the two had spoken about it. Instead, he insisted that Camilleri should provide the document.
Camilleri said he was unable to do so because he had decided to rip up the affidavit document, leaving Hyzler momentarily unable to actually see the document from either party involved in the drafting of the document.
The affidavit was later shown to the commissioner when he was forced to summon Times of Malta journalist Ivan Martin to show him the document in his possession.
Castaldi Paris said he and Camilleri “go way back”, and have known each other for a long time because they live in the same street. Castaldi described him as “coming across as a very nice man and a very decent person”, arguing that he was “convinced that Joe (Camilleri) is a person who says the truth”.
However, Castaldi Paris also attempted to distance himself from Camilleri’s sworn statement, admitting that Camilleri had approached him about it occasionally “over a period of ten, 11 months” but not outright confirming that this document had been notarised by his office.
According to the transcripts provided in volume 2 of the evidence published today alongside Hyzler’s report on Cutajar, the MP appeared keener to confirm under oath that he was not in possession of the document and that he was not able to present it to the commissioner himself than to provide answers.
“I cannot, in any way, present this document to you, or bring it or retrieve it from somewhere, to be clear, to ensure that it won’t be me who tells you about whether this affidavit was ever signed or not, just to be clear,” Castaldi Paris said.
A few minutes later in the conversation, Hyzler seemingly picks up on the MP’s discomfort and unwillingness to answer.
“Anyway, today’s Tuesday, and at this rate we will end up going at it until the end of the week if we keep going round in circles,” Hyzler quipped shortly before terminating the interview.