Rosianne’s chats: How power and business took over Castille

As the country reels from 2,200 text messages sent between Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar and murder mastermind suspect Yorgen Fenech in the four months between June and September 2019, The Shift looks at how the messages exposed the politics and manoeuvres of a small clique that hijacked power.

Konrad for prime minister and businessman Darren Casha

In the summer of 2019, just two years after Labour won its second mandate to govern (2017), speculation was rife that disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat would be calling it a day.

The speculation was started by Muscat, who was hinting he wouldn’t contest the following general elections.

Despite his already tarnished record with the 17 Black scandal and other corrupt deals, Konrad Mizzi surprisingly confirmed his electoral intentions.

Fenech, who had worked closely with Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri on the ElectroGas power station deal, was, together with Schembri, pushing Mizzi for the top post.

Rosianne Cutajar, who at the time was aspiring to have a Cabinet position, was also backing Mizzi, but only because he was Yorgen’s friend.

“Jien ma Konrad għax habib tieghek (I support Konrad because he’s your friend),”  she told Yorgen.

“U Konrad ghidlu ma jagħmilx lil Darren alla tieghu (Tell Konrad not to depend on Darren)

“He is not respected by many ppl,” Rosianne warned.

Fenech speaks of “Darren” as a “conman” and expresses his frustration that they abandoned Mizzi.

“Konrad tlaqniq (sic) wisq aħna (we abandoned Konrad),” he tells the Qormi MP.

At the time, Darren Casha, the owner of MedAsia and the businessmen related to the More Supermarkets debacle (involving Ryan Schembri, Keith Schembri’s cousin) was regularly seen accompanying Konrad Mizzi. It was an open secret that the two were close.

The chats, however, reveal a new worrying aspect, mainly due to the ‘entertainment’ business in which Casha was known to be involved.

According to the Labour MP, while at a party at the house of her chief canvasser, Charles Farrugia, better known in Qormi as it-Tikka, Mizzi was seen entering the bathroom with Casha.

“Konna għand it-tikka fil-festa u rohom hergin t-tnejn mit-toilet flimekien (sic),” Cutajar told Fenech in a message in which she divulged that her canvasser had seen Mizzi and Casha exiting the bathroom together – implying they were in there to take drugs.

“Ma jixraqlux hekk Konrad…..specjalment jekk jaspira li jkun PM (this is not good for Konrad, especially if he aims to be PM),” she told Fenech.

At the time of the chats published by Mark Camilleri, who Cutajar is suing for libel, Fenech was visiting various rehabilitation centres abroad to treat drug addiction.

Mixing politics and business

The leaked conversations confirm, if there was any need, the closeness of top businessmen to Labour politicians.

Fenech himself contributed substantially to the rise of the former Labour Qormi mayor.

And again, she called for his help in the texts:

“Qed nitħajjar nagħmel survey biex nara kif qeghda fid-distrett bhalissa, Tghini ftit? (sic),” Cutajar tells Fenech in her messages.

The businessman, also from Qormi, confirms he would finance a survey she wants to hold on how popular she is in her district.

The chats also refer to a programme on TVM, Xarabank, in which then-PN MP David Thake had alleged Fenech pledged money to the PN leader at the time for MEP David Casa not to be re-elected to the European Parliament.

While Fenech had issued a statement at the time denying the allegation, in the chats Cutajar asks Fenech whether he had spoken to someone who could have informed Thake.

“Inti imma tkellimt ma xi hadd dwarha l-haġa?” Cutajar asks Fenech.

Cutajar vetted Fenech’s statement, the chats reveal. “I like,” she said.

Rosianne Cutajar

Cutajar’s Cabinet post and the EU Commissioner

Cutajar and Fenech discuss the Qormi MP’s ambitions to join Joseph Muscat’s Cabinet in their chats.

Knowing Fenech was close to Keith Schembri, Muscat’s chief of staff, Cutajar urged Fenech to speak to Schembri to promote her to a ministerial post.

In mid-June 2019, Cutajar was texting Fenech about how she was anxiously awaiting a Cabinet reshuffle in the hope that she could be given the post of a minister or junior minister.

“Jekk tilhaq Helena (Dalli) commissioner ezl (Edward Zammit Lewis) jpoġġu (If Helena Dalli is elected commissioner, it will be Edward Zammit Lewis who replaces her),” Cutajar told Fenech, venting her frustration.

“Jagħmlek 100% (you will get the position, 100%),” Fenech texted back.

“Anki (even) EZL,” Fenech confirms.

Zammit Lewis was a Cabinet minister until 2017, when he failed to get re-elected.

In another text, Cutajar again insists she had a feeling she would be left out. She told Fenech that everyone in government was abusing their power, and she would do the same by getting another paycheque from the Institute of Tourism Studies.

“Issa ġejt ghala biebi ha nidħol konsulenta ta’ Pierre its u ndahhal paga ohra (I don’t care, I am joining Pierre as a consultant to earn another salary),” she told Fenech.

“Ma jimpurtanix, kulhadd jithanzer (I don’t care, everyone’s nose is in the trough),” she said.

At the time, Cutajar was already receiving two state-funded salaries, one as MP and another in the newly-created post of Commissioner for the Simplification of Bureaucracy, for a total of €60,000.

True to her word, she also got an ITS contract to act as communications advisor to Pierre Fenech, the CEO who is still on two CEO government jobs.

In July 2019, Muscat nominated Helena Dalli for the European Commission and appointed Zammit Lewis to the equality ministry.

As she predicted, Cutajar never made it to Cabinet in 2019.

However, she did manage in January 2020 when Robert Abela made her Parliamentary Secretary for Civil Rights.

The clique’s powerful friends

Fenech and Cutajar let slip conversations about their close friends.

The Qormi MP revealed that she was not taking her new boyfriend to a party hosted by Johann Buttigieg, the former Planning Authority Chairman, later made CEO of the Malta Tourism Authority.

Cutajar also asked if Buttigiegg was going to Ibiza with him (Fenech) and Keith Schembri.

Joseph Cuschieri, at the time the CEO of the Malta Financial Services Authority, is also mentioned in the chats.

Recounting how he took out the boys (friends) for a summer stroll on his boat, Fenech says that Cuschieri took many pictures.

“Cuschieri hadli photo shoot,” Fenech says about the MFSA’s top man at the time.

Cuschieri was later axed from his post after press reports on the trips he took with Edwina Licari, the general counsel of the MFSA, recruited by Cuschieri on a €100,000 salary.

The trips included one to Las Vegas with Fenech, where Charlene Bianco Farrugia, the secretary of Keith Schembri at the OPM, accompanied the man accused of masterminding the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Keith, his wife and Yorgen’s

While trying to keep their relationship secret, Cutajar teases Fenech about his relationship with Keith Schembri’s secretary.

“Ifhimni ta’ Charlene wahda mir-ragunijiet li qbadtek kien ghax issemiha (I learned about Charlene because you used to mention her),” Cutajar tells Fenech.

During one of the conversations, Fenech confesses that he was spying on his wife’s phone to see what Schembri’s wife, Josette Schembri Vella, was telling her about him and Cutajar.

Qaltilha biex titkixxef fuqna ma Keith (Schembri),” he tells Cutajar.

“Ghax ma ttkixxifx fuq l-ohra,” Rosianne hits back, referring to Schembri’s secretary.

And Chris Cardona, of course

Cutajar describes former economy minister Chris Cardona as someone who can’t be trusted and warned Fenech that Cardona would deceive Konrad Mizzi to become PL leader.

“Lil Cardona intih daqqa go halqu jibqa jiftakarha ghal ghomru (Cardona deserves a slap on the face he will remember for the rest of his life),” an angry Fenech tells Cutajar.

“Anke Edward Gatt ma jridx jaf bih”, she answers, referring to Keith Schembri’s lawyer. He is a childhood friend of Cardona, but the two clashed. Gatt is also Cutajar’s lawyer.

On Wednesday, Gatt filed an urgent request in court on behalf of Cutajar for Mark Camilleri to be investigated for publishing the chats.

The court ordered the Police Commissioner to investigate Camilleri on whether the documents he published were protected by the November 2021 court order banning the publication of all typed and electronic data in the case file against Fenech, who is awaiting trial for alleged complicity in Caruana Galizia’s murder.

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2 months ago


2 months ago

No wonder Abela has his hands tied.
So it seems that Konrad was sniffing.
There was a lot of hanky panky going around.
Keith was the man to talk to.
Muscat supervised the mess , at arms length not to leave any traces around.
Yurgen had inside information from the cabinet.
Favors were paid for in cash and it Tikka did the distribution .
The institutions were really working in overdrive.

Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
2 months ago

This utter idiot is not only a shame to the female population, as she is the true opposite of an elegant lady with attributes and style, but she is also an absolute disgrace to the political class. She continues to bring more shame to the LP.

2 months ago

It’s not just her, in fact it’s the lot of them including the one who published the chat records. How anybody can still vote for the PL with a clean conscience is really beyond me. In my view, this party and all those involved in matters as reported in this article and on othe media outlets, are not just morally finished, but political as well.

Francis Said
Francis Said
2 months ago

Disgusting and shameful ethical behaviour of the PL government in office.

2 months ago

The content of this article as much as the quoted extracts from the chats published on the Times of Malta website only confirm what many were either convinced about the ways the PL works inside their network, or always suspected that to be.

The way the PL is ruined by its own corrupt machinations, it has damaged democracy in Malta, not just Malta’s international reputation. They were and still are all in this together. The more of the revelations come to light, the more disgusting it is and goes beyond any description.

2 months ago

“The court ordered the Police Commissioner to investigate”– THAT’S a good one; the courts will have to wake him up first

2 months ago

A member of parliament saying that she will be contacting Pierre of ITS for another monthly salary was accepted and no action is taken, cause you know, every other MP is doing it. On the other hand, Camilleri will be the one liable for criminal action for Whatsapp leaks. Where is the bucket?

A. Fan
A. Fan
2 months ago

When did various levels of psycopathy become the standard in government?

2 months ago

This is not a normal country anywhere else there would have had to be a resignation.

Make your votes count !

2 months ago
Reply to  H2O

or a revolution.

2 months ago

hmieg ma hmieg u l-flus ma jaghmlukx nies.

shame on you
shame on you
2 months ago

And while Yors is in prison, is there a new benefactor for politicians – JP? The person to go to if in need of a favour!

2 months ago

People seem to have missed Fenech saying that Mizzi visited him while Fenech was in rehab in the US. I understand that Fenech had lost his phone in the US at this time and may have caused some worry to Mizzi.

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