The National Audit report on the Gaffarena scandal proved that this was the beginning of the end of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s government, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said this morning.

Speaking in Zejtun, Dr Busuttil said the report showed that the Prime Minister’s movement’s loyalty was not to the country but to himself and the interests of the few.

The National Audit Office investigation started after the Times of Malta last May exposed an expropriation scandal involving businessman Mark Gaffarena, who partly owned a building in Old Mint Street, Valletta.

The NAO concluded that former Parliamentary Secretary Michael Falzon had colluded with officials of the Government Property Department and Mr Gaffarena in the expropriation of half the building.

“The report is very strong. It is clear proof that this government is in a corruption crisis… that we have the most corrupt government in history…”

Dr Busuttil said that while the report used the word collusion, meaning an agreement which led to someone getting something that did not belong to him. The word for this in Maltese was corruption, he said.

“There is corruption here…. Joseph Muscat’s government is most corrupt government in the history of our country.”

Dr Busuttil pointed out that the Gaffarena scandal was not a one-off.
“There is a series of scandals… so many that we cannot keep up with them... We focus on the worst because there are so many.”

He said there were deep and dangerous links between those who were corrupt and the authorities. There were mafia links between MR Gaffarena and the Lands Department, Mr Gaffarena and Castille and Mr Gaffarena and the police. This, he said, was unacceptable in a democratic country.

Dr Busuttil noted that the Prime Minister was ultimately the minister who was responsible for the Lands Department.

“Did he know about the deal before it was signed? Was it possible for him not to have known about it?”

If Dr Falzon had not told the Prime Minister about the deal before it was signed, he should have resigned for that reason alone. But he had no doubt that Prime Minister knew about it,” Dr Busuttil said adding that, if he did, he should shoulder responsibility.

The Opposition leader also asked if it was possible for Mr Gaffarena to get €3.5 million and not corrupt anyone. He said he had no doubt that the truth would eventually come out.

On the Labour Party’s reaction to the scandal, Dr Busuttil said this was initially one of panic and every effort was made to find dirt about the Nationalists.

But three years had passed since the election and there was not one former PN minister who had been taken to court in relation to corruption. This was in itself a message that no matter how hard the Labour Party tried, it would not manage to taint the PN.

The Prime Minister then opened a court case against Mr Gaffarena and the government he himself represented. This was the most absurd theatrical case.

“Did he really believe that the people were so stupid? Could he not just have ordered the Lands Department to change what was wrong,” he asked.

Dr Busuttil added that the government’s interest was not to get the money and property back from Mr Gaffarena but to fool the people.

Dr Muscat then sent the police to the Lands Department where staff were treated in the most undignified manner and humiliated, left in the courtyard for half a day while the police supposedly looked for criminal evidence.

But if the facts had been known since last May, why had the police not gone to the Lands Department then?

This was because the people in the police department who were supposed to be investigating were the children of former assistant commissioner Ray Zammit, who was now heading the government’s enforcement agency and who were in in business with Mr Gaffarena.

Moreover, why did the police not go to investigate at Castille if there was a black on white conclusion that the former Parliamentary Secretary was involved, Dr Busuttil asked.

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