10 August 2005

The Web

Labour’s Jose Herrera to Abramovich’s rescue

Yet another sign of the end of ideology? It is definitely the end of the Labour Party’s priorities as its main spokesman on maritime affairs, Jose Herrera, is insisting that the government should launch an inquiry into the costly blunder that ruined the super yacht of Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich, while docked in Manoel Island two weeks ago.
The owner of English football club Chelsea found the latest spokesman in the form of an upper-class Maltese Labour MP, calling for an investigation into how the Lm45 million 400-foot yacht Pelorus ended up with “the wrong type of fuel”.
“Although it is true that the service was not given by government or by a government agency, the repercussions can be drastic on the country,” Herrera said yesterday. “In fact, an incident like this happening to a person so prominent and involved in the world of yachting will definitely damage our reputation beyond repair, in an industry that is so important to our country.”
A far cry from Alfred Sant’s abandoned slogan, “the citizen first”, Herrera referred to Abramovich’s celebrity, and the millions in his pocket, to justify his call for government’s intervention in a bid to save one of the main lucrative industries here.
“The inquiry should verify what happened exactly and to come up with necessary recommendations so that this kind of incident won’t be repeated,” the MP said.
Indeed, Abramovich is understood to have said that he will make sure such an incident will not be repeated; he may never return to Malta.
The exact problem is still very vague according to those involved. Both the reputable supplier Falzon Service Station, and Abramovich’s Malta yachting agent, Simon Borg Cardona, stop short of pointing fingers at each other.
“I can’t comment on this right now,” said Karmenu Falzon, the service station’s managing director when contacted last Friday by MaltaToday. “Abramovich’s crew can say whatever they like but I don’t know of any problems. This is a complicated issue and I’ll only speak when things get clearer.”
“I can’t say what happened exactly,” Borg Cardona said. “We still don’t know, but definitely Abramovich’s departure would have been delayed because of a fuel supply problem. In any case this is very bad publicity for Malta’s yachting industry. Word spreads like wildfire among captains and yacht owners.”
This was the Pelorus’s third trip to Malta in her four years of existence. Borg Cardona said: “This may well be her last.”

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