The Malta Independent 1 October 2023, Sunday
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Former Keith Schembri PA was fourth person to attend Yorgen Fenech’s Las Vegas trip

Neil Camilleri Thursday, 29 October 2020, 11:45 Last update: about 4 years ago

A former OPM official was the fourth person who attended the Las Vegas trip organised by Yorgen Fenech, The Malta Independent is informed.

Charlene Bianco Farrugia had previously served as personal assistant to disgraced OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri. She was reportedly no longer in this role when she attended the 2018 Vegas trip but was still an OPM employee. She has since moved to the state IT agency, MITA.

The trip was also attended by former MGA chief (now MFSA CEO) Joe Cuschieri, as well as lawyer Edwina Licari who, at the time was a gaming authority official and today serves as legal counsel to the MFSA and also sits on the FIAU board.

The Malta Independent sent questions to Bianco Farrugia on Wednesday but these have not been answered yet.

Questions sent to Licari also remain unanswered.

Bianco Farrugia has already testified in the public inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, and said that she saw Yorgen Fenech at Castille quite often.

On Wednesday, Times of Malta reported that Cuschieri travelled to Las Vegas with Fenech, who stands currently accused of masterminding the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in 2018.

At the time, he was transitioning from the MGA to the MFSA. His flights were paid for by Fenech, while the accommodation was paid for by the hotel – Caesar’s Palace.

Cuschieri confirmed the existence of the trip to the Times of Malta but said that there was no conflict of interest or ethical breach.

He said he had been invited by Fenech to attend the trip as the former regulator of the gaming sector. "At the time Mr Fenech was considering undertaking an investment and I was invited to advise on regulatory matters,” Cuschieri said.

Speaking to The Malta Independent later, Cuschieri said he was not paid anything for the advice he gave. When asked, he did not elaborate on what type of advice provided, saying that "it is inappropriate for me to disclose commercially sensitive information."

The trip took place before Fenech was outed as the owner of 17 Black, and well before he was charged with masterminding the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia in November 2019.

The Nationalist Party has called on Prime Minister Robert Abela to dismiss Cuschieri, who was appointed at the MFSA during the Joseph Muscat administration.

This newsroom has sent questions to Finance Minister Edward Scicluna, the FIAU and the MFSA.

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