Read this article from the FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) blog that highlights the use of wrist watches for bribery and corruption.

Over the last few weeks as news emerged of the sort of gifts Joseph Muscat got from Yorgen Fenech over time I tried to imagine putting myself in Joseph Muscat’s position and wonder what I’d have done. I’ve had a little experience of receiving unwanted attention when I worked in government but of course I was far lower the ranks to smell any material temptation.

Once¬† I worked on the parking system for Valletta and the managers of a shopping complex there came to speak to me to discuss their hopes and expectations from the scheme. They weren’t too happy with what I had to tell them but I promised to look at their complaints again. After the meeting one of them who ran a cinema screen inside the complex sent me a pair of cinema tickets ‘to thank me for the time’. I put them in an envelope and sent them back. Of course we’re talking of a handful of euro worth of tickets so there wasn’t much temptation to resist.

I did get a few bottles of wine sent to my office over Christmas while I worked in government. The general policy was to accept a small token over Christmas as long as there was no reciprocating it at public expense. I once got sent a rather big hamper from the bus owners’ association (that’s the club of bus owners before the public transport reform). It had gin and whiskey and vodka so it looked like it could cost upwards of 50 euro or so. I sent that one back.

Thinking back to that leaves me in no doubt I’d have sent the Bulgari watch Joseph Muscat got right back to its sender. I’m far from an expert on wrist watches. I don’t own one. I think I got one for my confirmation before puberty and lost it on some bus. My parents were furious. So I think I decided never to risk their ire again by ever owning another wrist watch again. In any case there’s phones for timekeeping these days.

If I’m entirely honest I’m not sure how I’d have reacted to the Chateau Petrus. I think you’ll have figured from my posts that I’m far from a conoisseur. I mean I respect people who know their wines and I do go along with the ritual in a restaurant of trying to sniff at the sample they pour before you’re supposed to “taste” it. In twenty-five years of adulthood I never recall saying anything but “mmm, good” after the tasting bit. I never really know what I’m supposed not to like.

If I got three bottles of Petrus at my birthday party (and not have had the benefit of the vintage Yorgen Fenech scandal of 2019) I’d probably not have thought much of it. I’d probably have realised I opened and shared some 20,000 euro worth of grape juice with at least partially inebriated party guests the next day, and then only if I bothered to google Petrus. I suppose what I’m admitting to is ignorance about very expensive things. I mean I heard that some wines are extremely expensive and some are sold by auction. But 90 euros per centilitre is just the sort of money I don’t understand.

You’ll be surprised to learn from this specialist blog post then that this wrist watch costs $2.6 million.

To my ignorant eyes that’s completely meaningless. I admire the subtlety, the balance of the design, the elegance of the piece. But I could never imagine it’s worth as much as a palace.

The point the blog post makes is that wrist watches are a good way to pay bribes. An expensive wristwatch does not start financial intelligence investigations, it does not wake up a customs officer at the airport, it’s just ignored by everyone except by people who have eyes for these things. I don’t. I think most people don’t.

How many wrist watches does Joseph Muscat own? What are they worth? Where did he get them from?