Who’s really in charge? – Kevin Cassar

Steve Cachia gave an interview to Noticias Agricolas in which  he was introduced as Malta’s Head of Mission at the Embassy of Malta in Brazil. The video uploaded on Youtube indicates Cachia as the Chefe de Missão (Head of Mission).

Yet when Minister Ian Borg travelled to the country to launch Malta’s first embassy in South America, the official foreign affairs statement indicated that Malta’s ambassador to Brazil was John Aquilina. So who is really heading Malta’s mission in Brazil?  And who is Steve Cachia?

Cachia promotes himself as a market analyst and business development consultant with over 30 years of experience in agribusiness. In fact, he is a commodities trader. Since 1998 he has been the director of Cerealpar, a Brazilian grain brokerage and consultancy services company, trading corn, soybeans, wheat, and other foods on the domestic and international markets.

But Cachia is also the Global Director of TradeHelp which claims to be “a new generation B2B digital trading ecosystem for Agri commodities and service providers”. It enables real-time market trading for physical commodities and trade services using Artificial Intelligence. The company is based in Los Angeles, California.

And on top of his other many onerous commitments – heading the Maltese embassy in Brazil, running Cerealpar and being the Global Director of the US company TradeHelp – Cachia also finds time to work as a consultant for Kordin Grain Terminal.

Like many other state-owned entities, Kordin Grain Terminal is another excuse for funding Labour’s insiders from taxpayers’ money.  The chairman of Kordin Grain Terminal, the national grain terminal facility is not an expert in the field.  It is the Labour Party’s international secretary Marc Vella Bonnici. He’s also Pitkalija Ltd CEO since 2019 according to his LinkedIn page. Prior to that, he had a string of other crony appointments – policy consultant with the energy ministry, Special Project Assistant assisting the Ambassador of Malta to Ukraine – while also serving as Zabbar’s Labour mayor between 2014 and 2019.

TVM’s Norma Saliba ran an article on TVM’s news website about Steve Cachia in October 2018.  Cachia was interviewed at the Kordin Grain terminal on ‘Ras imb Ras’ where he presented his “proposal to make Malta a centre for distribution of grain and cereals for Europe”. He was introduced as the consultant for Kordin Grain Terminal. But while serving as a consultant to the Grain Terminal, Cachia’s company Cerealpar was making money by selling grain from Brazil out of Kordin’s grain terminal to several North African countries.

As early as March 2016, the Brazil Arab News Agency ANBA published an article entitled “Cerealpar uses Malta as a hub for deals with Arabs”. Cachia’s cereals brokerage company, based in Curitiba, the capital of Brazil’s Paraná state had been selling Brazilian agricultural products to various Arab and North African countries, including Saudi Arabia, Algeria, the UAE, Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.

Cachia clearly had vital personal commercial interests.  His company Cerealpar was a client of the grain terminal.  How could somebody with such vested personal financial interests also serve as a consultant to the same grain terminal he was using for his personal profit? Cachia must have had the support and blessing of Labour if Norma Saliba was promoting him on TVM.

The Labour party-owned online portal, the journal.mt, carried an article featuring Steve Cachia in May 2021, titled  ‘Malta and Brazil: a promising future?’.  Randolph Debattista, the editor of Labour’s English language portal had bragged that “the journal.mt is owned by the Labour party. But make no mistake, it will not serve as a vehicle for propaganda”. On Debattista’s website, Cachia was presented as a market analyst and business development consultant. There was no mention that he was a consultant for Kordin Grain Terminal while using it to make a personal profit.

Cachia, at least, was honest: “What has prevailed in recent years is the drive for economic prosperity”.  He detailed how Agribusiness represented one third of Brazil’s GDP, that Brazil was the number one exporter of soybeans, coffee, sugar, orange juice, beef and poultry and a prominent exporter of corn, petroleum oils, iron ore and wood.  He salivated at the thought that the new EU-Mercosur free trade agreement between the EU and four South American countries, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, “should present new excellent opportunities for our services industry” and for lining his pockets.

It seems that those excellent opportunities are about to be traded in by Cachia who suddenly finds himself ensconced in the shiny new Maltese embassy in Brazil.  Whether he is the Head of Mission of that embassy, as Brazil’s media announced or whether he’s the Deputy Head of Mission, as Ian Borg claims, is beside the point.  The central question is whether somebody with such extensive vested business interests and who still maintains key executive roles in private business companies is the best choice to man our mission in Brazil – our first embassy in the whole of South America.

Surely our only embassy in South America should strive to improve the reputation of our country, to build trust and provide reassurance that Malta is an honest nation with whom Brazil and other nations in the region can deal fairly and squarely. That important diplomatic role can hardly be fulfilled by a man with no diplomatic experience whatsoever – and with personal vested business interests in both countries.

Shouldn’t Ian Borg have at least insisted that Steve Cachia should relinquish his business interests before promoting him to a diplomatic position representing our country? Has Steve Cachia obtained security clearance? If Steve Cachia is not the Head of Mission in Brazil why hasn’t the Brazilian media been told?

                           
                               
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Francis Said
Francis Said
4 days ago

As usual greed has no limits. In what was promised by the PL prior to the 2013 elections.
Good governance, transparency etc. etc.,
Greed and prosperity for the few wee not mentioned. Neither were that corruption and mal administration of government’s funds would be the order of the day.

Last edited 4 days ago by Francis Said
Noel Ciantar
Noel Ciantar
4 days ago

But wasn’t it a former “government” Minister, who now heads the Central Bank, who informed us that South American taxi drivers talk about corruption in Malta? Seems that while Brasil may be using Malta to market its agriproducts, Malta will be exporting to Brasil its corruption, of which we have a surplus.

Marianna Galea Xuereb
Marianna Galea Xuereb
55 minutes ago

All this experience in commodities trading should in theory help Malta acquire food at advantageous prices. But what we common citizens are experiencing is the price of food and all basic necessities rising from one shopping trip to the next.

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