A Brussels-based website has backpedalled on claims it published in June about Health Minister Chris Fearne receiving kickbacks on a passport sale to a wealthy Russian.
EU Reporter had published claims linking an alleged €3.2 million payment to Carmen Ciantar’s daughter as being part of the supposed kickback.
Ciantar, a close political aide to Fearne, suspended herself for several months from her role at FMS after facing separate corruption claims which have since also been discredited.
She has since returned to her job.
Having published the initial passport kickback claims, EU Reporter said in an article on Friday that “few people bothered to think about whether these serious accusations were real or not”.
It admitted that a “careful study” disavowed the claims, that were originally published by an obscure Ukrainian author.
The website admitted that the document purporting to prove the €3.2 million payment was a “fundamental forgery”.
Despite carrying a copy of the fake document in its original report, which has since been deleted, EU Reporter audaciously hit out at the “authors of those publications that reprinted false information”, saying they did not take care to verify it.
“However, any professional journalist who would like to get to the truth could contact the bank and get information. But in the pursuit of sensations, no one wanted to do anything,” EU Reporter’s article continues.
Fearne, who had vehemently denied the claims, has urged the police to probe who was behind the falsified documents.
Ciantar had said in a Times of Malta interview that she and her daughter were victims of a frame-up against Fearne.
“Clearly, my daughter and I are collateral damage. This is really a dirty campaign to try to discredit the deputy prime minister, who I have had the honour to work for and whose integrity he never gave me reason to doubt," she said.