An audio recording of a political appointee taking bribes from people requesting social housing was handed over to the police for investigation, the Times of Malta has learnt. Sources close to the investigation said the recording backed what a whistleblower said earlier this month.

In a statement last Friday, Housing Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes said that he had suspended a member of staff pending an investigation into allegations of corruption.

Investigators believe the official, who was seconded to Mr Galdes’s secretariat from the Office of the Prime Minister shortly after the June general election, may have been taking bribes for several months. “It is our belief he had been up to this from day one. In fact, it is even possible he went there with plans already in mind on how he would engage in this illegal practice,” the sources said.

To think someone was asking for backhanders makes my blood boil

It is being alleged that, at least in one case, the suspect received about €400 after he arranged for a particular State-owned property to be allocated.

READ: Secretariat official suspended amid claims he received bribes

The sources said the evidence in hand made the case “open and shut”.

The investigators are known to be examining documents related to social housing to see whether any “dubious activity” could have been involved. This could lead to some allocations being reversed, Housing Authority sources pointed out, highlighting the difficult situation some might find themselves in as a result.

“We are talking here about people who turn to the government to help them secure housing due to financial or personal difficulties. To think that someone was asking for backhanders from such people makes my blood boil,” they added.

When he announced that an investigation had started, Mr Galdes said he had taken it upon himself to try to weed out abuse and ensure that those in need were given dignity and shelter. “This is why circumstances like this disappoint and anger me greatly,” he said.

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