Updated 7.15pm with PN statement
Hundreds of contraventions issued to politicians, their aides, business people and former top LESA officials in the last five years were deleted from the agency’s systems, according to multiple sources.
The individuals in question avoided paying fines for all sorts of contraventions, from exceeding the speed limit to parking on double yellow lines, in reserved areas without a permit, on the pavement and close to corners.
“One vehicle alone was forgiven about 200 contraventions,” the sources, close to the Local Enforcement Systems Agency, said.
They said the records show that after wardens issued the fines, an official within LESA was repeatedly withdrawing them from the system, marking them as “cancelled”, “withdrawn” or “not guilty”.
Times of Malta has seen a number of these records.
One vehicle with many withdrawn contraventions belonged to a former LESA top official. Contacted for comment, the individual directed questions on the matter to agency CEO Svetlick Flores.
Flores said the employee who allegedly withdrew the contraventions was not authorised to perform such a task and that decisions on petitions are decided by an independent board.
These fines were hardly mistakes by the wardens
He refused to answer direct questions on whether LESA started an internal investigation into the matter or whether the official had been suspended. Flores would only say that LESA had initiated disciplinary proceedings against him and that he had been transferred to another department.
“LESA initiated disciplinary proceedings immediately upon receiving a complaint about their employee on various issues,” he said.
“As a precautionary measure, LESA also removed the person from the role until disciplinary proceedings are concluded. The process is currently under way.”
The official in question is facing other allegations of misconduct, including of sexual harassment at the workplace.
Flores also refused to comment on the allegations that former top officials had several contraventions withdrawn.
Sources who spoke to Times of Malta said that all fines issued by wardens on the street are registered in an internal database. At that point, it is possible for a contravention to be withdrawn legitimately, like in those cases where it was issued erroneously.
“Wardens take pictures of the vehicles whose driver they fine and those pictures are registered in the database too. These show the vehicles breaking the law. So, these fines were hardly mistakes by the wardens,” the sources said. “It is very unfair for the many hard-working wardens who do their jobs with integrity to see their work being undermined like this.”
Repubblika, PN call for investigation
In a statement on Monday, rule of law group Repubblika said the Times of Malta news story showed how the same laws did not appear to apply for everyone.
It said it expected this case to be investigated and people held to account, in the interests of justice and accountability.
A Nationalist Party spokesman said the report showed how a culture of impunity has taken root.
"For the last five years at least, the honest work of wardens was being undermined to benefit the few. This scandal needs to be investigated and action must be taken. Those who benefited from this scheme should be made to pay up in full."