Standards Commissioner Judge Joseph Azzopardi has decided not to investigate Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo for initially obscuring documents confirming Pierre Fenech was the CEO of two government entities simultaneously, raking in €122,000 yearly, which The Shift had first revealed in February.
This is Azzopardi’s first decision as Commissioner for Standards in Public Life after being appointed on 8 March through a controversial new law introduced at the end of last year that ensures the government can choose the commissioner in cases of parliamentary deadlock.
Citing The Shift’s reports, independent politician Arnold Cassola had requested the investigation in an official complaint on 17 February. Cassola asked that Bartolo be investigated for “refusing to provide adequate information” and going against “basic transparency standards which are required of any public servant”.
Cassola’s request for an investigation came after Bartolo refused to table documents detailing Fenech’s two roles when requested by Opposition MP Mario de Marco in a parliamentary question. It was only after a second parliamentary question asking for them that Bartolo submitted Fenech’s two contracts.
In his response to Cassola’s request, Azzopardi concluded that while Bartolo “failed to present the contract… the mistake was rectified less than two weeks later” and that “it is true that the delays could have been avoided, but the delays themselves do not merit an investigation”.
Pierre Fenech held two separate and concurrent contracts as CEO of the Institute of Tourism Studies and the Mediterranean Conference Centre, both of which fall under Bartolo’s Tourism Ministry, requiring a combined 80 hours of work weekly. The two roles netted Fenech €122,000 annually.
Sources at both ITS and the MCC have told The Shift that Fenech has been in the two positions for several years – since disgraced former minister Konrad Mizzi was at the tourism ministry’s helm.
Fenech has ties to disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat through his wife, Romina Fenech, who is a close friend of the disgraced former prime minister’s wife, Michelle Muscat.
Following author Mark Camilleri’s leak of then Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar and businessman Yorgen Fenech’s WhatsApp chats, The Shift revealed that Cutajar was contracted as a consultant for Pierre Fenech.
Fenech failed to explain how he recruited Cutajar as an ITS consultant in May 2019 or whether she had performed any work for the institute.
‘Anti-parliamentary deadlock’ legislation
Azzopardi, the new Standards in Public Life Commissioner, was appointed through the introduction of an ‘anti-parliamentary deadlock’ legislation passed covertly two days after last last Christmas.
The new legislation allows a commissioner to be appointed through a simple majority vote if the previously required two-thirds consensus is not reached.
In effect, this means that the government can freely choose a commissioner without the need for consensus with the Opposition, turning the commissioner’s role into that of a “government puppet”.
Azzopardi has dismissed concerns about his impartiality and possible loyalties to the Labour Party, with which he has previously run for election.
He objected to being described as “inefficient”, saying that “it is a complete lie” and claiming that the Court of Appeal “was the most efficient court in many years” under his tenure.
In reply to questions by The Shift, he said he was not bothered by opposition to his appointment.
Continued tradition of best justice money can buy…
I have a simple question to ask: What is it that they are given/promised to make them so willing to make absolute arses of themselves in public to the extent that their credibility is irretrievably destroyed?
THE GREED – did you forget what rosianne stated – kollha jithanzru.
Does not bode well for Ethics Commissioner. He was saved by the proverbial bell in boxing.
Let’s see what happens when he has to handle a hot potato.
He won’t handle any hot potatoes … He will find a poor excuse not to do so….
One can observe how the PL gets more impertinent, defiant and unashamed beyond description by every day that passes with even more scandals revealed. Of course they are not bothered and they don’t care for they have still four years in govt ahead of them.
jew sakemm l-poplu ma jibqax jissaporti l-hnzirijiet tal-hniezer.
Azzopardi. Weak – just like and exactly how his boss wants him.
Just look at Abela’s poodle ministers for confirmation.
As a late friend of mine used to joke “Ix-xoghol warrablu, halli jidher”.
Why do you think robber changed the rules so that he could put his puppet in place and the puppet of Azzopardi is doing precisely what robber wants?
This one has the puppeteer’s strings tied to his jingles.
Your worth is zilch in terms of Malta’s Standards.
Your decisions have no value.
You’re not even credible to yourself – let alone those who continue to scrutinize you for your lack of integrity.
You are sunk deep into a big black hole just like your fellow consiglieri.
Your inconsiderate and rough so-called ‘justice’ in the past has wreaked havoc on innocent people. Even children have a better sense of fair play than you do.
Mur indifen – will not wash because your soul died a long time ago.
He’s the Gafa 2.0
Like listening to a poorly-wound music box wind… down…
As Mrs Slocombe would say, weak as water!
Ftakru x qal meta sar prim il miserabli joe muscat. Fil hajja kollox ghandu prezz. Min jaf kemm hu il prezz ta dal kumissarju tal istandarts?
Lol. “I can’t be bothered “ – well, I can see how his courts were efficient if this is his attitude to cases 😂