Kurt Farrugia, the former spin doctor of disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat and current CEO of Malta Enterprise, has disbursed €150,000 of public funds to sponsor a TV reality show on the state broadcaster PBS.
The program – Shark Tank – produced for profit by a private company owned by former Nationalist Party figures Anton Attard and Mark Grech – has nothing to do with Malta Enterprise’s mission of attracting foreign direct investment towards the island.
However, Kurt Farrugia, appointed CEO of Malta Enterprise by Muscat a few weeks before his forced resignation, justified funds as an initiative to “support innovative startups and scaleups.”
Contracts obtained through a Freedom of Information request and signed between Mark Grech – a former president of the PN’s youth wing, turned entertainment entrepreneur – and Kurt Farrugia show that Malta Enterprise is paying €50,000 per series produced by Greatt Company Limited.
Registered in 2018, the company lists Attard – the former head of NET TV and TVM – and Grech as its joint owners. It is also involved in other businesses, including mass concerts, which are also heavily subsidised through public funds.
While Malta Enterprise has already sponsored all the Shark Tank programmes, limited to some 13 episodes per series, the programme producers are also receiving unknown amounts of public funds from Screen Malta – administered by the Malta Film Commission and Kurt Farrugia’s former Office of the Prime Minister colleague, Johann Grech.
Auditing firm RSM – the Labour Party’s auditors are also sponsoring the programme and are given publicity during the TV reality show.
RSM’s Managing Partner, George Gregory – former minister Konrad Mizzi’s enabler of the controversial deal on the ITS site in St George’s Bay, serves as the programme’s consultant with former ONE TV reporter Anthony David Gatt, now a chief officer at Malta Enterprise.
The programme producers also commissioned companies close to the Labour Party to conduct their production, including Beateam Audio and TEC Ltd.
The latter organised mass events during Labour’s electoral campaigns.
Malta Enterprise told The Shift that over the last years, as part of efforts to diversify Malta’s economic landscape, it has added an extra focus on innovative startups and scaleups.
“The support to Shark Tank forms part of a series of initiatives that highlight our work in this field”, Malta Enterprise stated.
NSO statistics published a few days ago show poor results for Malta Enterprise.
Inflows of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in manufacturing – Malta Enterprise’s main mission – dropped from €967 million in 2021 to a value of €494 million in 2022.