Enemalta has suspended five more staff members as investigations continue into the tampering of smart meters. Another three were suspended yesterday.

Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi told parliament that Enel engineers in Italy had found that some of the tampered meters were recording 20 units for every 100 consumed.

The theft of electricity had been going on since 2011.

The minister said those suspended included people who had installed apparatus to slow down the meters and others who had 'sold' the tampered meters.

Yesterday, the minister said that some 1,000 meters had been tempered with in a sophisticated scheme. Theft of electricity accounted for 10 per cent of power generation and cost Enemalta €30m a year.

Dr Mizzi said in his statement that Enemalta officials had noted a sharp loss of metered consumption from 2011. 95% of meters which were investigated were found to have been tampered, and a pattern emerged. 

He said that after his press conference yesterday, a number of people had come forward with information, and he was renewing his appeal for more information.

The government, he said, would continue intensive investigations and would not tolerate any abuse. He was especially angry at the Enemalta staff responsible for this racket, who had shown disloyalty to the corporation and the people, he said.

He did not rule out that more workers would be suspended. 

Opposition Energy spokesman George Pullicino said the Opposition fully supported the government in its investigations and the actions it took to clamp down on abuse. 

He asked if the 1,000 tampered meters were domestic or in commercial premises and whether criminal action would be taken. 

He also asked if one of those suspended workers was Louis Attard, a person close to the minister and possibly the ring leader in this racket.

Dr Mizzi said tampered meters were found both in private houses and commercial properties.

that following legal amendments under the previous government, cases of theft of electricity were not taken to court but handled in an administrative manner. However this was the biggest such case of electricity theft. Under the former government there was a report about suspected theft through the smart meters but there were doubts about whether this was possible, and no action was taken. 

The minister confirmed that one of the workers who was suspended today is Louis Attard, who works in the Enemalta finance section.

He said the investigation proper started in May by the Theft Control Unit which he had set up, and the police were involved and were questioning several people. 

All those responsible would have to pay for their actions, he said.