Outright fraud, corruption and manipulation of the truth have been the hallmark of the Labour government ever since it swept to power more than 10 years ago. Instead of protecting the interests of the country and its citizens, according to their oath of allegiance, both disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat and his successor, Robert Abela, together with their cabinet of ministers, have betrayed the trust given to them by the electorate.

The series of major scandals that engulfed the country when Muscat was prime minister continued on Abela’s watch.

What is even more of concern is that a terrifying culture of impunity has been created in the heart of the office of the prime minister in the Auberge de Castille, where several scandals have been rooted with the ultimate goal of buying the votes of disgruntled Labour supporters. The latest examples are the driving licence scandal and the fake medical certificates scandal.

The Labour government has succeeded in maintaining a strong grip on the country’s institutions by placing party loyalists at their helm and squandering six-figure salaries on them.

Successive handpicked police commissioners subservient to the government have shown a reluctance to investigate and prosecute corrupt activity involving high echelons of the government and their close allies.

Whenever these police commissioners committed a serious breach of duty that could not be brushed under the carpet, instead of being punished, they have been handsomely rewarded.

Peter Paul Zammit, the first police commissioner appointed by Muscat, had no option but to resign after one year in office when it was revealed that he had interfered in the course of justice by ordering the withdrawal of charges against a former private client of his who allegedly assaulted four police officers.

Zammit was subsequently rewarded by being appointed in a position of trust as head of security for international events within the office of the prime minister, a job that carried the same salary as he received as police commissioner.

Raymond Zammit, who succeeded him, was dismissed after only five months for attempting to cover up for a shooting incident by minister Manuel Mallia’s driver, Paul Sheehan. Like his predecessor, he was rewarded with an equally well-paid position of trust as chairman of the Local Enforcement Agency Advisory Board while retaining the right to be chauffer driven.

Another disgraced police commissioner was Lawrence Cutajar. His integrity became questionable over his lack of action on government scandals and the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. He was also placed under police investigation after allegations surfaced that he had passed confidential information about ongoing money laundering investigations to Melvin Theuma, the middleman in the assassination of Caruana Galizia.

On the same day that Abela announced Cutajar’s resignation, he appointed him as a part-time consultant on a 20-hour working week at the home affairs ministry on a yearly salary of €31,040, together with a communication allowance of €800 and a fully expensed car. Cutajar ended up enjoying a better package than he did as a police commissioner.

Abela took no punitive measures against minister Ian Borg after it was revealed from WhatsApp chats that, when he was the minister responsible for transport, he exerted pressure on the director of transport for certain particular applicants to obtain a driving licence even if they lacked the necessary competence. Similar pressure was exerted by staff in various ministries on the director and other staff of Transport Malta.

Abela ignored the dangers to the lives of drivers and pedestrians on Maltese roads and said that he disagreed with anyone who says that politics should be done differently.

Both Muscat and Abela continued pumping money into this fraudulent deal- Denis Tanti

Abela’s statement drew the wrath of the European Parliament. In a resolution that it adopted on the state of the rule of law in Malta, the European Parliament said that it was appalled by Abela’s statement downplaying acts of institutional corruption. It added that such statements continue to entrench the culture of impunity for public officials allegedly embroiled in scandals.

Abela behaved in a similarly irresponsible manner in the disability benefits fraud that ran over a number of years, during which millions of euros were abusively siphoned from the state coffers and used to line the pockets of people often hailing from Labour strongholds.

Abela protected and supported Silvio Grixti, a family doctor and Labour MP, who allegedly provided false medical documents to these individuals to enable them to rake in some €450 monthly in social benefits for severe disabilities that they did not suffer from.

After Grixti resigned from parliament on being arrested and investigated by the police in connection with this fraud, Abela hid the reason for his resignation and retained him in the various consultancy and advisory positions that he held with the government, for which he continued to receive more than €140,000 yearly.

Abela similarly rewarded Sandro Craus, the Rabat major who is facing criminal charges of theft and misappropriation of funds, when he allegedly used his position of head of the customer care unit at Castille to fix a phantom government job for Theuma.

Craus has subsequently been given an indefinite contract with the government that carries a financial package of €65,000. The contract contains an obscene clause that guarantees Craus the payment of five years salary and allowances in the event that his contract is terminated and the payment of 10 years if it is terminated after five years of employment.

The Labour government’s most infamous heist against Maltese citizens took place when, instead of protecting them as it was obliged to, it swindled them of €400 million by colluding with Steward Health Care and their predecessor, Vitals Global Healthcare in the deal for the concession of three state hospitals.

Both Muscat and Abela continued pumping money into this fraudulent deal despite the failure of the concessionaires to reach one milestone after another.

Denis TantiDenis Tanti

Abela only changed his course after the court ruled in favour of a case filed by former opposition leader Adrian Delia requesting to have the agreement rescinded but he has not said whether he will seek to recoup the money given away. 

And the betrayal of public trust continues.

Denis Tanti is a former assistant director at the health ministry.

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