Clint Mansueto and two other Transport Malta officials face criminal charges for trading in influence in connection with a driving test racket

Police allege that Mansueto instructed subordinates to favour specific candidates. Driving test examiners and interpreters have testified under oath that they were pressured to do so. 

But Mansueto did not operate in a vacuum. 

The former TM director was fielding requests from all sorts of people - from the Transport Minister himself, all the way down. 

Here are some of the key figures involved in the scandal. Although police have had evidence of Mansueto's phone conversations for over a year, only he and two of his underlings have been prosecuted. 

Clint Mansueto

Transport Malta former director of licencing

'We have a problem if we keep going at this rate, without any control'

Clint Mansueto.Clint Mansueto.

The man in charge of licencing at Transport Malta and the highest-ranking official facing criminal charges in connection with the scandal. Texts show Mansueto fielded requests for all sorts of singled-out driving test candidates - from ministers' relatives to third-country nationals who needed a Maltese driving licence to work for companies close to the Labour Party.

A Times of Malta analysis shows Mansueto received requests for help from over 11 government and Transport Malta officials. Many were Transport Ministry insiders close to minister Ian Borg. One was an official within the prime minister’s office. Another was the Gozo Minister’s closest aide. Yet others were Mansueto’s own bosses at Transport Malta. 

Together, they sent him the names and particulars of hundreds of driving test candidates. In many cases, they asked him to find them an early test date. In other cases, they asked for ‘help’, noting that candidates had failed the test before or needed ‘assistance’.

Mansueto was overwhelmed by requests for help and even warned his boss, Pierre Montebello, that the flood of demands for help was going to land him in hot water.

“People are talking,” he texted Montebello in October 2020. 

Police arrested Mansueto in late 2021 and charged him with trading in influence. He is pleading not guilty and was suspended on half-pay following his arraignment. 

Ian Borg

Transport Minister between 2017 and 2022

'He has his test on Wednesday and is saying they are not being fair with him. He has already been twice before. Maybe they can see that they are fair with him. '

Minister Ian Borg.Minister Ian Borg.

Borg was politically responsible for Transport Malta during the period when the racket operated. WhatsApp chats show that he also contacted Mansueto directly on several occasions to urge him to help certain candidates - and also warned him in August 2021 that "they're onto you".

The minister chose his words carefully and on occasion told Mansueto that he didn’t want him to do “anything illegal”. But he had no issue with flagging selected candidates to the TM official, including on one occasion a list of 22 third-country nationals who needed a driving licence to work for his friend’s company.

Borg now serves as Malta's Foreign Affairs Minister. 

Pierre Montebello

Chief Officer Transport Malta

'It would be better if you kept a notebook just for this (if you don't already have one) :)'

Pierre Montebello.Pierre Montebello.

As Transport Malta's chief officer for land transport, Montebello was Mansueto's boss. He bombarded Mansueto with names of candidates, including some he said came "from the very, very top".

In October 2020, Mansueto told his boss that he was getting too many requests to ‘help’ candidates and warned him “Pierre, at this rate I’m going to end up in trouble.” Montebello continued to send him names and six months later joked that Mansueto “should keep a notebook just for this”.

Montebello continues to serve as the top official within Transport Malta’s land transport directorate and even served as Transport Malta’s liaison with the police force in relation to the case against Mansueto.

Ray Mizzi

OPM customer care official, PL activist 

'No worries. He's probably against us, fuck him'

Ray Mizzi.Ray Mizzi.

A longtime PL activist who worked within the Prime Minister's office and also canvassed for Michael Falzon, Mizzi was on very friendly terms with Mansueto and the two spoke warmly to each other.

He passed on over 20 names to Mansueto between June 2018 and October 2021, often noting that they came 'from Michael Falzon's district'.

When Mansueto told him he couldn't find an early test date for one flagged individual, Mizzi made his political leanings clear.

"No worries, especially since he's probably against us. Fuck him," he told Mansueto.   

On another occasion, Mizzi made his intentions clear: "this is the cousin of my daughter's husband and I want to win his vote," he told Mansueto, adding "his mother is with us". 

Jesmond Zammit

Trusted adviser, canvasser to Ian Borg

'This is to help with the theory test, can it be sorted in Gozo? It's the fourth time he's taking it!'

Jesmond Zammit.Jesmond Zammit.

Zammit, who has been part of Ian Borg's inner circle for years, sent Mansueto the details of more than 60 candidates over a seven-month period.

On many occasions, he would just text Mansueto a photo of the candidate's details, without any text. Mansueto would reply with a thumbs up.

Zammit still works for Borg. 

Rachel Debono

PA to Transport Malta chairman

'Clint, this is a personal friend of the cman and always with the minister. Is there a chance please? And we take care of her?'

Rachel Debono.Rachel Debono.

Aside from texting Mansueto the names of specific candidates, Debono also encouraged some candidates to not let their driving instructors accompany them during tests.

When, on one occasion Mansueto misunderstood her, Debono spelt out that Mansueto should “just make a note next to the name when the candidate sits for the test, to look after him”.

Sometimes, even Mansueto could not help. When he apologetically told her that a flagged candidate had failed after almost crashing the car with his instructor present, Debono reassured him.

“Everyone gets what they deserve,” she said.

Debono was subsequently headhunted by Robert Abela and now serves as the prime minister's personal secretary.

Mark Sammut

Public Broadcasting Services chairman

'Before u found solutions for me. Don’t find an issue with this one pls.'

Mark Sammut.Mark Sammut.

Sammut, previously a Transport Malta official, texted Mansueto several candidates' names and ID card numbers across a three-year span, sometimes using an aggressive tone to strongarm him into getting his way.

When Mansueto told him they needed some paperwork filed to give a flagged candidate a new test date, Sammut was not having it.

“Tell Gilbert I want date within the hour,” he wrote. Fifteen minutes later, Mansueto provided him with a test date in five days’ time.

Sammut, who owns two IT firms, serves as executive chairman of PBS, the national broadcasting network.

Michael Buhagiar

Chief of Staff to Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri

'We need her vote. She’s important because she’s a delegate.'

Michael Buhagiar.Michael Buhagiar.

Buhagiar sent Mansueto around 50 names between 2018 and 2021. Some of those candidates needed specialised driving licences to work with the Civil Protection Department. Others were more personal, such as when Buhagiar sent Mansueto the test date of his own son.

In most cases, Buhagiar followed up his texts providing candidates’ particulars by explicitly stating that he was asking for the candidate “to get some help”.

Buhagiar continues to serve as Clint Camilleri's chief of staff. 

Gilbert Agius

TM Deputy Chief Officer

'Tomorrow at 7am from OPM vvip client'

Gilbert Agius.Gilbert Agius.

One of Mansueto's bosses at Transport Malta, Agius served under chief officer Pierre Montebello.

Like Montebello – and fellow Transport Malta deputy chief officer Donald Gouder – Agius sent Mansueto details of specific candidates and often made it clear they were important ones: from "Gavin Gulia's son" to "Minister Cardona's wife" and the son of then-MTA CEO Johann Buttigieg.

Another was a “friend of IB”, one came from “Silvio Grixti” and on another occasion, he flagged a worker for a company close to Labour who had sat for his test seven times.

In December 2019, Mansueto complained to him that the Transport Ministry's selected were hogging all the driving test spots.

"I had seven slots and the ministry swallowed them up in two days,” he told Agius.

Agius continues to serve at Transport Malta.

Donald Gouder

TM Deputy Chief Officer

'His father is the driver of Robert, the prime minister.'

Donald Gouder.Donald Gouder.

Gouder contacted Mansueto to flag candidates like minister Anton Refalo's son or people who failed their driving test multiple times.

“Can we help please, if you can?” he would ask Mansueto.

Other candidates he flagged included one related to “the driver of Robert, the prime minister” and another who happened to be his own daughter. Gouder specified which instructor he wanted for his daughter’s test. Mansueto obliged.

He continued to send him names even after Mansueto warned him that allegations about driving test corruption were swirling.

Glorianne Micallef Portelli

Head of Customer Care within Ian Borg's ministry

“Hi Clint – this is the daughter of a friend of ours, who helps us. She has already done the test twice and didn’t pass – can we help?'

Micallef Portelli was in regular contact with Mansueto, flagging candidates of all sorts. Some came 'from OPM'. Others were just family friends.

Mansueto would often text her to let her know that the candidate had passed, except for one occasion when the driver was so dangerous that Mansueto could not help.

Mansueto apologetically told her 'Sorry Glorianne he's a killer'.

Antonella Micallef Agius

Person of trust within Ian Borg's ministry

'Please try help me out. She’s Wefi’s nephew. Good day.'

Antonella Agius Micallef.Antonella Agius Micallef.

Micallef Agius appeared to have a cordial relationship with Mansueto, who often joked with her about the driving abilities of some of the candidates she flagged to him.

On one occasion, Micallef Agius asked him to help a man in his 60s get a certificate needed to drive light passenger vehicles, such as Y-Plate cabs. Mansueto texted to tell her the man had passed, but added that he was 'really hopeless'.

Micallef Agius now works at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, having followed Borg there.

Joseph Mangion

Official within Ian Borg's secretariat

‘I spoke to his wife and told her to keep her mouth shut’

Joseph Mangion.Joseph Mangion.

Mangion, who worked within Borg’s ministry, passed on dozens of candidates’ names to Mansueto.  

When Mangion once asked for a candidate to be bumped up the queue, Mansueto cut to the chase: “is he with us, or a pile of filth?”

He eventually sorted that candidate out, with Mangion reassuring him that “I told her to keep her mouth shut”.

On one occasion, Mangion told him that a “turnip” of a candidate that he had flagged to him was also pressuring another ministry.

Mansueto replied “She’s a shit. I got her to skip the queue to speed things up... she should get some lessons and see what she did wrong before blabbing.” 

Philip Edrick Zammit

Transport Malta clerk and Labour local councillor

Philip Edrick Zammit.Philip Edrick Zammit.

'There's a ONE journalist doing his test on Saturday, perhaps we can assign him someone decent please'.

Zammit is one of three people facing criminal charges in connection with the racket. He is contesting the charges.

Prosecutors say he served as one of Mansueto's runners, relaying names given to him by his boss to driving examiners and translators and following up at his request. He and Mansueto chatted about all sorts of personal matters and swapped office gossip. "My loyalty to you is unprecedented, Clint" he told his boss on one occasion.

Raul Antonio Pace

Transport Malta clerk

'Clint, I apologise but he failed by just one'

Raul Antonio Pace.Raul Antonio Pace.

Pace faces criminal charges in connection with the racket. He is pleading not guilty.

As one of Mansueto's trusted underlings, he took instructions from the TM director  about various work-related matters - including which candidates to 'look after'.

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