Based on the 2022 general elections campaign expenditure reports filed by elected Labour MPs, 10 well-connected companies made at least €135,654 from providing services for their electoral campaigns, and that’s assuming the candidates’ declarations are honest.
An analysis showed a list of familiar companies that include regular recipients of direct orders from the government or owned by individuals closely associated with the Labour Party in government.
It is important to note that the analysis is based on what candidates have declared. Ongoing investigations by The Shift Team are already revealing that some candidates have either entirely left out suppliers of services or products to their campaigns or provided receipts that are a fraction of the real expenditure.
The lion’s share of that money went to TEC Ltd, the events and logistics service provider which is the Labour party’s go-to company. The Shift has already revealed that Transport Malta gave the PL events organiser 20 direct orders worth €424,000 on a single day.
The owner, Carmel Magro, is the ‘whistleblower’ who came to the fore in 2010 when it emerged that former PN minister Tonio Fenech had contracted JPM Bros for renovation works at his home. He has benefitted from millions in direct orders since and clearly continues to benefit from his association with the Labour Party.
A total of seven Labour MPs paid at least €41,185 to TEC Ltd for the setting up of political rallies throughout the campaign. Three MPs claim to have paid €5,000 to the party’s preferred billboard advert printer and supplier, AF Sign Studio.
However, given the fact that there are 10 PL MPs who have failed to submit receipts accompanying their expenditure reports, the real amounts of money spent cannot be immediately verified.
The data available suggests that the second company that made a tidy sum of money is Media Today Co. Ltd, co-owned by government spin doctor Saviour Balzan, which made €19,398 from PR and advertising services provided to at least 13 Labour MPs.
By far the preferred media outlet for Labour MPs seeking to promote their campaign, surpassing even the party’s own outlets like Kullħadd or others closely affiliated like the GWU’s Union Print Co. Ltd, Media Today’s services included advertising as well as sponsored Q&A sessions.
Caxton Printshop Ltd, a company owned by Richard Schembri, made €15,297 in sales from just four PL MPs, largely from the printing of flyers and posters to be used in the campaigns.
As for the provision of food and beverages which voters were treated to in direct breach of the General Elections Act, the names of two major players stand out – Neriku Catering Ltd and Alfsons Enterprises Ltd.
A total of €10,776 was spent by four MPs at Alfsons Enterprises Ltd for the provision of consumables, with four MPs spending €7,304 at Neriku Caterers.
Neriku Caterers are one of the most well-connected food and service providers in the country, winning lucrative government tenders as well as receiving direct orders from the office of the prime minister, the active ageing ministry, the education ministry and the foreign affairs ministry, among others.
Villa Arrigo, a venue in Naxxar that is commonly known for its popularity as a wedding venue, is also used regularly for ministerial activities and personal coffee mornings organised by politicians for their constituents. It is partly owned by the Zammit Tabona family of Fortina Group whose business interests are regular beneficiaries of government contracts and controversial permits. The company managing the venue made €12,591 from election events organised by five of PL’s MPs.
Allied Newspapers Ltd, publishers of The Times of Malta, which has three of its former Managing Directors facing charges of money laundering and fraud, netted a total of €7,051 in advertising. Union Print Co. Ltd, the publishing house run by the General Workers’ Union, made €6,356 in advertising.
Overall, one of the major expenses declared by 19 PL MPs was social media advertising. In total, at least €42,317 was spent on sponsored posts on Facebook alone. This is also the only expense that can be independently checked because of Facebook’s own reporting, so declarations tended to be more honest here.
The PL’s top 15 spenders according to their electoral declarations are highlighted below, along with another data chart which provides an overview of every single candidate’s total expenditure (scroll through the tabs to get the full list).