Phyllis Muscat thinks kickbacks are normal business even for the government

Published: May 6, 2017 at 10:35am

Phyllis Muscat, a close friend and ally of Keith Schembri and Joseph Muscat, has sued me for this report which includes an email describing how the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2015 organising committee, which she led, had asked hotels for kickbacks on bookings by meeting delegates.

Vexatious law suits are clearly the order of the day for Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi, Christian Cardona, Keith Schembri and Saviour Balzan, the last of whom was actually prepared to take a false oath – perjuring himself like Christian Cardona and his person of trust Joe Gerada – about my completely factual “1am phonecall from Keith Schembri” report.

In the statement which she released to the press – read here and here – Mrs Muscat in fact confirmed the contents of my report by saying that yes, the organising committee had indeed asked the hotels for kickbacks and that these kickbacks were paid directly to “central government”.

The only difference is that she called those kickbacks “commissions”.

It is completely unheard of for the government or any committee set up by it to demand a cut off the sales made by those who provide a service to it – in this case, hotel rooms for meeting delegates. The hotels in question found it so shocking that some of them had contacted me back then to tell me about it, but not one of them was willing to give me the email that confirmed it.

An email was finally sent to me a few days ago, by a senior hotelier, which I published in the story which upset Mrs Muscat so much.

These dreadful people have been so accustomed to giving cuts and kickbacks and “commissions” and asking for them, that they think this kind of behaviour is normal.

Meanwhile, I’d like to point out that shortly after I published the story, I received a phone call from Andrew Agius Muscat, an official of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association which sent out the email in question (he actually withheld his number, can you believe it) telling me that my story is wrong and that it was the destination management company appointed by the CHOGM task force which took the “commissions”, as is “normal practice”.

He insisted and insisted that this was the case, and I told him that it’s not what his organisation’s email says, and that I know for a fact that it was the CHOGM organising committee which asked for the kickbacks because a couple of hoteliers had told me about it point-blank at the time.

Phyllis Muscat then issued her press statement confirming my report, which made me wonder why Mr Agius Muscat had called to tell me that rubbish about the DMC.

But while he was on the line, I took the opportunity of asking him what he plans to do about the million euros which the Prime Minister’s Office ordered the Malta Tourism Authority to pay to his mate Thomas Flohr at Vistajet as “sponsorship”. “I didn’t see any statement of protest from the MHRA,” I told Mr Agius Muscat.

He told me that the MHRA will hold a meeting with the Tourism Minister on the subject. “But you won’t be getting that million euros of public money back, will you,” I said. “And you won’t issue a statement, either, because the MHRA is in Muscat’s pocket.”

Phyllis Muscat’s task force asked hoteliers for kickbacks on bookings made for CHOGM delegates. Mrs Muscat issued a statement yesterday saying that the kickbacks were paid directly to “central government”. She seems to think this is normal behaviour.