Police are awaiting Prime Minister Robert Abela’s approval to unlock what one source described as a “pandora’s box of sensitive information” contained within tax chief Marvin Gaerty’s government phone.

Faced with demands by the police to unlock his phone, Gaerty declined, citing secrecy provisions contained in the income tax act that could only be waived by the prime minister.

The mobile phone is believed to contain a treasure trove of information including an exchange with the prime minister himself this year.

Sources said the phone is understood to contain a conversation in which Abela refers to confidential information about opposition leader Bernard Grech’s taxes.

Grech’s tax issues had been the subject of controversy as he vied for, and eventually secured, the leadership of Nationalist Party in September. He has since settled his dues.

Questions sent to the prime minister on Saturday asking if he had ever asked Gaerty for information about Grech, were not answered.

Sources close to the prime minister, meanwhile, confirmed that Abela is still weighing his options over whether he would allow the police to access Gaerty’s device.

Gaerty, on the other hand, declined to comment when contacted on Saturday. He would not say whether the prime minister had asked him to divulge tax secrets on his political opponent and whether he had handed over any information.

Gaerty was asked to provide details... but he said he needed the approval of the PM to be able to do so

He also said he could not give the police approval to inspect his phone but that it was only the government that was in a position to give the green light.

Gaerty is currently on police bail after he was questioned earlier this week by investigators from the police’s Financial Crime Investigation Department over another conversation he had, this time with murder suspect Yorgen Fenech back in 2014.

Times of Malta is informed that Gaerty was held at the FCID headquarters in Santa Venera on Tuesday from 10am until 10pm to answer investigators’ questions. Police also searched his home and car, with officers later showing up at his office in Floriana with boxes to collect evidence.

Times of Malta had reported in November how Gaerty had been called in for questioning in relation to his exchanges with Fenech.

Since then he was called in to testify before the public inquiry tasked with establishing whether the state played any role in the assassination of Caruana Galizia.

During his testimony, Gaerty was asked to provide details on a number of individuals but he said he needed the approval of the prime minister to be able to do so.

The issue dates back to 2014, when Gaerty and Fenech had held a discussion over an outstanding VAT issue, sparking an investigation into possible trading in influence.

The evidence being probed in that instance emerges from an analysis of Fenech’s own phone. The business tycoon stands accused of conspiracy in the assassination of Caruana Galizia.


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