Two of the closest collaborators of disgraced former Minister Konrad Mizzi – James Camenzuli and Alex Cutajar – have remained well connected within the Labour administration, even after their boss’s forced departure at the end of 2019.
Just a few weeks after Mizzi’s exit from politics, James Camenzuli, whom Mizzi placed in various influential positions during negotiations in a number of multi-million-euro government deals, issued a direct order to Mizzi’s former media spin doctor, Alex Cutajar, to provide services to a low-key government company for €30,000 a year.
The contract signed by Camenzuli in his capacity as CEO of Project Plus Limited, an under-the-radar government entity involved in project management, was given to Viracy Media – a one-man commercial entity owned by Cutajar.
According to the contract, seen by The Shift, Mizzi’s former spokesman was to be paid by taxpayers at a rate of €24 an hour, despite his very limited experience and knowledge in the field. Prior to becoming Mizzi’s chief propagandist, Cutajar had no record of any engagement in the media, except for his volunteering in the Labour Party.
The contract, renewable after 12 months, positioned Cutajar to earn a minimum of €2,500 a month soon after he had lost his job with Mizzi, at a time when his reputation had become tainted by his association with the former minister who’d been linked with a litany of scandals and corruption claims.
It is not yet known whether Cutajar’s contract with Project Plus was renewed further. During the same period, Cutajar also acquired another government contract, this time from the Energy and Water Agency, another government entity which used to be controlled by Konrad Mizzi. This agency now falls within the portfolio of Minister Miriam Dalli, herself a former person of trust to the disgraced former minister.
An analysis by The Shift of the media presence of Projects Plus shows that Cutajar was not kept very busy in the contracted period, as both Camenzuli and the government entity maintained a very low media profile during that time.
James Camenzuli, an engineer by profession, was mentioned prominently by the National Audit Office in two separate probes into the controversial deals around the sale of the former ITS site in Pembroke to Silvio Debono’s DB Group, and the multi-billion-euro scandal-ridden VGH deal for the management of three public hospitals by an unknown company, now taken over by Steward Healthcare.
Camenzuli was personally selected by Konrad Mizzi to sit on the ad hoc decision-making bodies negotiating these deals, both of which have been slammed by the Auditor General.
During Konrad Mizzi’s short stint in cabinet, Camenzuli was awarded a raft of well-paid and influential government positions.
The most recent was a 2019 contract to act as CEO of Projects Plus, which came with a remuneration package of over €90,000.
Camenzuli’s contract was signed by Jeremy Dalli, deputy chairman of Projects Plus and a businessman who is currently also Energy Minister Miriam Dalli’s chief of staff. Dalli is personally involved in a number of businesses, particularly in the entertainment area located in Paceville. He is also involved in the construction business, as well as being a member of the board of the government’s project management company.
Camenzuli’s three-year contract comes to an end next month and it is not yet known whether Minister Aaron Farrugia, now responsible for Projects Plus, will keep Konrad Mizzi‘s men on board.
Camenzuli is still the government-appointed chairman of REWS – the regulator for energy and water providers.