The Malta Independent 4 December 2021, Saturday

Dishonourable bluff

Kevin Cassar Sunday, 24 October 2021, 09:30 Last update: about 2 months ago

"No I, ..so, so,... under oath, I confirmed and confirm, so, I am not saying that I have nor that I don't have, that I ever notarised or didn't notarise an affidavit, that I don't want to say, I am not going into it, but yes I confirm under oath that I cannot present or get or retrieve this affidavit from somewhere, so to be clear, so I wouldn't have told you that an affidavit was or wasn't drawn up... to be clear here".

There was nothing clear about the oblique garbled testimony of Labour MP Ian Castaldi Paris before the Commissioner of Standards. He was being asked about an affidavit he had notarised, according to Joe Camilleri, the man who entered into a sale agreement of a property with Yorgen Fenech - with Rosianne Cutajar's help.

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Castaldi Paris' evidence before the Commissioner was evasive, secretive and insincere. Commissioner Hyzler commented in exasperation "I think we can keep going round in circles till the end of the week". The commissioner concluded in his report that the role of Castaldi Paris in the affidavit story was at best ambiguous.

Castaldi Paris had driven Hyzler to his wits' end with his deviousness.

"Do you know Joe Camilleri?" Hyzler asked.  Castaldi Paris: "I know who he is".

Hyzler again: "Do you know him well?  Are you neighbours?"  Castaldi Paris: "We go a long way, we know each other".

Hyzler insisted "How do you know him?"  Castaldi Paris fibbed: "An acquaintance".

In fact Castaldi Paris had known Joe Camilleri for 10 years. Castaldi Paris eventually admitted "I know Joe really well".

He knew him so well that Camilleri asked Castaldi Paris to intervene with the Prime Minister to encourage Rosianne Cutajar to refund the money she had been given for her part in the property sale agreement which fell through. Hyzler repeatedly asked Castaldi Paris about this.  Repeatedly Castaldi Paris refused to answer:  "I am not going to comment about this. I prefer not to comment".

Castaldi Paris stubbornly refused to answer even basic questions. He claimed he was bound by professional secrecy and could not possibly comment about any affidavit. But he agreed that if the client released him he would testify.

So Hyzler asked Joe Camilleri. When Camilleri signed a declaration releasing Castaldi Paris from professional secrecy, the MP still refused to testify.

He made even weirder excuses.  "I had somebody come to my office and threaten me not to release the affidavit".  Realising he had admitted to possessing the affidavit he frantically backtracked - "if I had one" he added.

Hyzler wasn't happy. "I'll have to ask you to come back". "I am available when you like," the MP confirmed. "Tomorrow afternoon," Hyzler pounced.  "That's too short notice, I'll have to see," Castaldi Paris replied.

When Castaldi Paris attended for the second meeting with Hyzler the following day, the MP's claims grew more fantastical.  "Yesterday's meeting was leaked," he announced. "Leaked?" Hyzler exclaimed, incredulous.

"Yes, this morning I was again threatened by somebody in my office, who told me that yesterday I came here, and warned me that if I release the affidavit, I have family members who may be harmed". He insisted the leak could only have come from the Commissioner's office as he had told nobody.  But his own secretary had written to the commissioner confirming the MP's attendance, so at least one other person was aware he was testifying before the commissioner.

The MP dug deeper. "Today I think I will lodge a report with the police to ask for protection. This is the second time it happened, an unidentified person again today, but I don't know, I don't know, but anyway just for the record".

So a person goes to his office twice, threatens him and his family but Castaldi Paris fails to identify the person.  And has to "think" whether to lodge a police report. He later refused to confirm or deny whether he lodged a report.  He also refused to comment on whether he knew the person threatening him.

Hyzler asked him repeatedly about the affidavit.  His replies were outrageous. "Before I see this alleged affidavit I am not going to speak about something I don't know what I am talking about, because I will be shooting in the air, and I am afraid I will be saying things that aren't true".

Asked point blank by Hyzler:  "Do we agree that an affidavit was drawn up?"  Castaldi Paris wriggled away: "I would like to see the document to which we are referring".

In sheer exasperation Hyzler asked "Can we agree that as a notary you occasionally draw up contracts?"

Castaldi Paris:  "I cannot answer such a generic question".

Hyzler didn't give up.  "Did you ever draw up an affidavit at least once with Camilleri?"

"I don't wish to comment on this.  Because I don't know which document you are referring to".

Castaldi Paris elevated deviousness to a whole new level. Since then chats with Yorgen Fenech revealed how Castaldi Paris bragged about buying a London 16 million property. He declared only 18,200 euro in bank savings and one Lija property against a bank loan.  But actually owned another three properties in Lija, Attard and Sta Venera. He claimed in private chats that he also owned 3 properties in London and was looking for "a big mansion". He invited Yorgen Fenech to "do something together".

Chris Fearne announced that Castaldi Paris was removed from the Public Accounts Committee. Fearne gave no reason, allowing the shameless MP to brag that he had requested to be substituted. Like it did with Carmelo Abela, Rosianne Cutajar, Konrad Mizzi and others, Labour condones the inexcusable.

Castaldi Paris' disgraceful actions drag the seedy reputation of our representatives deeper into the muck. Instead of paragons of integrity with the courage to speak the truth, we are burdened with self-serving perfidious opportunists. The responsibility for inflicting such dishonorable representatives on the nation must be borne by the parties and their idle leaders.


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