The Malta Independent 28 September 2020, Monday

Delia, Portelli categorically deny Keith Schembri claims of ‘extortion money’ collection

Monday, 22 June 2020, 12:46 Last update: about 4 months ago

Opposition Leader Adrian Delia and Former PN media chairman Pierre Portelli have categorically denied claims regarding money collected for the Nationalist Party from Yorgen Fenech.

The claim was made by disgraced former OPM chief of Staff Keith Schembri, when testifying on Monday morning in the compilation of evidence against the 17 Black owner. Fenech stands charged with being a mastermind in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

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Schembri said Fenech had once told him that the Opposition Leader Adrian Delia had gone to Fenech to ask for €50,000 euros for David Casa not to be elected in the 2019 MEP election.

He added that Fenech had also told him that the same Opposition Leader used to send Pierre Portelli to pick up €20,000 at the end of each month.

Pressed about this, Schembri said this was "extortion money."

He said he had never witnessed this personally but knew for certain and had been told by people he trusts.

Schembri said he knew that they would spend hours waiting in the reception of Portomaso for Fenech. He said he once met Portelli there, but didn't ask why he was there.

Opposition Leader Adrian Delia, while denying the claim said that he already filed a sworn affidavit in court regarding the allegations.

He said that he will not comment further at this stage as he does not want to prejudice the procedures that are ongoing in court, and augurs that nobody be allowed to deviate attention from the aim of the proceedings.

Delia reminded the public that Keith Schembri and the people around him are implicated in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, "and this is why he is resorting to lies even while testifying under oath."

"This is an attempt to stop me from doing my duty to assure that everyone who used their official position in the highest corridors of power go before the courts to answer for their actions."

A PN spokesperson later told this newsroom: “Partit Nazzjonalista categorically denies the scandalous accusations made by Labour’s Keith Schembri. We never collected, requested nor received €20,000 from Yorgen Fenech or anyone else on a monthly basis, nor was anyone sent, requested or ordered to do this on behalf of the party.”

In a statement, the PN challenged the Labour Party to also declare that it had not received monies from Fenech.

In a Facebook post, Portelli categorically denied all that Keith Schembri had said in court. He also posted a photo of a sworn declaration in which he denied having ever been offered or received any money to mount a campaign against David Casa.

Portelli added that he is willing to make a declaration if the police ask him to.

PN Leader Adrian Delia has also denied claims that the PN was offered money to undermine Casa's re-election chances.

PN MEP David Casa, when contacted by this newsroom, said: "I have nothing to add to the press statement I issued on this subject last week."

Casa previously said that if there were any attempts to silence him by Yorgen Fenech, they failed/ He said he was grateful to the electorate who elected him to voice their opinion in Europe, and to continue fighting for justice and strong and credible institutions.


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