Costly rally organised by Silvio Schembri missing in campaign expenses declaration

MFCC rental costs and catering for 12 March event not listed in minister’s expenditure report

 

One of the events organised on behalf of economy minister Silvio Schembri for one of his electoral rallies, held on 12 March at the MFCC venue in Ta’ Qali, is not accounted for in the minister’s campaign expenditure report which candidates submit to the electoral commission under oath.

To begin with, the use of the venue itself, one of the largest in Malta, was not covered by an invoice or a receipt which shows the amount of money spent on it. Any donations in kind must also be included in the candidates’ declarations, according to law.

The MFCC is owned by Corinthia Group, the same group that was given a sweetheart deal from the government last year. Corinthia Group paid the government just €1.3 million to build and sell 25 luxury villas in Ħal Ferħ, a prime site with views overlooking Golden Bay.

The event was held at MFCC following initial plans for the event to be held at Montekristo Estates, which is owned by Charles ‘ic-Caqnu’ Polidano. According to the minister’s own promotional posters, the venue was changed because they were “going bigger”.

Left: Promotional poster for the event held on 12 March. Right: A post on Silvio Schembri’s Facebook page (posted on 18 March 2022) referring to the event held on 12 March – his post was later deleted.

Based on footage and images of the event (below) which have since then been deleted from the minister’s Facebook page, The Shift can also confirm that Mannarinu Caterers were in charge of serving Schembri’s constituents with food on the day, although they do not appear on the minister’s campaign expenditure report.

Mannarinu Caterers appears in another invoice related to the minister’s campaign expenditure, relating to a separate event held at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta on 19 March amounting to €3,500 which was “paid in cash”.

 

Besides the massive venue and catering, the glitzy electoral evening featured musicians and other live entertainment and even an entertainment area for kids complete with racing game booths, bouncy castles and virtual reality headsets.

There is also the fact that it remains unclear what amount was paid for the setting up of the event itself. One of the invoices that were filed in Schembri’s expenditure report originates from a company called SD Concept Ltd, but does not mention the specific date on which the event was held.

Given that the €12,500 invoice refers to “event set up and related services for election campaign 2022” but does not specify on which date the event was held, questions have been sent to the organiser to determine whether their services were provided for the 19 March event or a separate one. Questions remained unanswered at the time of writing.

Then-parliamentary secretary for the digital economy Silvio Schembri speaking at the 2019 AI-Blockchain Summit.

SD Concept Ltd, which formerly operated under the brand name ‘Ovation’, is owned by Stefan Balzan and Daniel Caruana, who, along with Abdalla Kablan, are the organisers behind the Delta Summit which was also held previously held at the MFCC.

Caruana is the head of operations and logistics of the Delta Summit, an event which is held to promote blockchain technology. Balzan is the co-founder and head of marketing, sales and legal for the same event organising company.

The event itself was heavily sponsored by the government back when it sought to promote Malta as the go-to destination for the blockchain space. One direct order issued in 2018 shows that D3LTA Events Ltd, a locally-registered company that is solely owned by a Gibraltar-registered company known as SLV Euroserv Ltd, was given €80,000 for a “contribution to a blockchain conference”.

Back in his days as parliamentary secretary for the digital economy, Schembri was (and remains) one of the main over-enthusiastic promoters of the failed ‘Blockchain Island’ project.

Political candidates could spend up to €20,000 per electoral district they contested. Schembri contested the 6th and 7th districts and declared he spent €31,124.76 on his campaign.

                           
                               
guest
6 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
KLAUS
KLAUS
24 days ago

Deliberately lied and submitted under oath!
In a democratic country, the minister would now be at home together with the certificate of dismissal.

In a dictatorship it looks already different ….

Ian
Ian
24 days ago

Why did Silvio Schembri lie to Parliament when answering on direct orders dished out by the Malta Gaming Authority?

M.Galea
M.Galea
24 days ago

And they continue business as usual!

Francis Said
Francis Said
24 days ago

Maybe the Hon. Minister emulated Jesus Christ’s miracle in feeding thousands using a few loafs of bread and fish.
The enclosure well, is difficult to explain. Maybe from extraterrestrials?
The music was provided by “Hark the Angels sing”.
Miracles do happen!!!!

Pauline Grech
Pauline Grech
23 days ago
Reply to  Francis Said

Well said Francis Said although it’s well past Christmas’s time!!

Francis Zammit
Francis Zammit
53 minutes ago

This minister should resign due to the lack of transparancies in the Lands Department which is under his watch. What a disgrace.

Related Stories

Jason Micallef’s disgust – Kevin Cassar
Not even Jason Micallef, ONE chairman, and Emanuel Cuschieri,
One of Blue Lagoon’s deckchair operators was Gozo minister’s canvasser
Mark Cutajar, one of two licensed deckchair operators at

Our Awards and Media Partners

Award logo Award logo Award logo Award logo