Former Prime Minister Alfred Sant has called for action against those allegedly behind a massive benefit fraud scheme revealed earlier this month.

Times of Malta had revealed  that the police were investigating almost 800 people who received monthly cheques of €450 for severe disability after obtaining the benefits using falsified documents. Former PL MP Silvio Grixti, officials in the Office of the Prime Minister and others at a number of ministries are suspected of being involved in the scheme.

Sant, now a Labour MEP, said in a Facebook post that those who received benefits meant for disadvantaged people were committing theft.

There was no doubt that abuses happened under every government, with officials closing an eye for reasons of clientelism. It was something which should be condemned, he said.

"But to have fraud on an organised level is criminal abuse that cannot be tolerated. I agree with those who insist that action should be taken not only against those who benefited from this abuse, but also those who organised and led it, whoever they were," Sant said. 

On Wednesday, Times of Malta reported how doctors who sat on the board which received the applications for the benefits said they also felt cheated and argued that they had no way of knowing that applicants were fraudsters. 

The board is composed of almost two dozen doctors who do board work on a rotating basis. 

Sources close to board argue that the fraudulent applications were backed by signatures of colleagues who they knew and trusted. In reality, those signatures and documents were forged.

On Saturday the Social Policy Ministry said it had appointed a board led by retired judge Antonio Mizzi to look into how severe disability benefits were issued.   

Prime Minister Robert Abela has claimed that Grixti was asked to resign as an MP back in 2021, when his office became aware of the allegations. 

But the Social Policy Ministry, which is responsible for overseeing disability benefits, told Times of Malta that it only became aware of the allegations “last year” when it detected suspected forgeries in documentation. 

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