The Malta Independent 6 August 2020, Thursday

Muscat says he always returned expensive gifts or left them to the state

Giulia Magri Sunday, 29 December 2019, 10:50 Last update: about 8 months ago

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said during a recorded ONE Radio interview this morning that he always acted correctly when he was given anything expensive as a gift, adding that he either always returned them or, when this was not possible, left them to the State.

The Prime Minister has insisted that he acted correctly throughout his leadership whenever he was gifted anything expensive, saying that in each occasion he either returned the gifts or left them to the State.

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"I did what I had to do and I will continue working, and not play these games of people saying half-hearted rumours, I am setting the record straight."

Muscat said that the recent expensive gift reports were an attempt at a smear campaign against him. Muscat also added that his predecessors had not left any gifts they had been given behind when they left office and left empty offices and residences. He added that after being elected Prime Minister, he had not found any numbered gifts left to the State which had been given to previous prime ministers when Malta joined the EU.

Over the past days, there have been a number of reports that Muscat was given expensive gifts by a man charged in relation to the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Yorgen Fenech.

Fenech was reportedly a guest of honour at one of the Prime Minister's party's last February, where he gave Muscat three wine bottles worth thousands of euros as a gift. It was also reported that Muscat had been given a very expensive watch as a gift

The Office of the Prime Minister had previously issued a statement on a watch the watch report, but did not deny that the gift was received, In that statement, the OPM had said: "The Prime Minister will not engage in answering partial, deeply manipulated information being selectively leaked to parts of the media by someone who is directing the accused in a hideous assassination case to obviously try to build a narrative that is both misleading and self-serving."

"The Prime Minister did his duty in this case despite the fact that he was threatened, as he himself reported, with a smear campaign", his office said before noting that Muscat continues to hold the right to take "appropriate action at the right time" and answer with facts that show "the manipulation and the pure inventions being circulated right now and others being obviously concocted. No amount of personal vendetta timed with vehement spite by someone will deviate from these facts", the statement read. 

"Meanwhile, it must be noted that the Prime Minister has always followed all the codes and rules related to gifts he received", the statement concluded.

Muscat is currently on a family holiday in Dubai, and the recorded interview was aired while he is abroad.

 

When asked whether he is optimistic that 2020 will be a good year for the country, Muscat said that he will always be an optimist and  he believes that the new year will be good for many people. "In the new year those who are disabled will be receiving a grant which amounts to a minimum wage, pensioners will receive an increase in their pensions. I also believe that the new leader, be it Fearne or Abela, will continue to run this country in the right path."


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