Lands Authority chief executive James Piscopo will not be suspended despite being the subject of an active criminal investigation into bribery and corruption. 

Replying to questions, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri said Piscopo had been summoned in for a meeting on Monday and denied any wrongdoing.

“Following a meeting I had with James Piscopo, he has denied these allegations and informed me that the police have not made contact with him either,” Schembri, who recently took over political responsibility for the authority, said. 

The minister said that despite being politically responsible for the Lands Authority, he had not been informed or kept abreast of police investigations on this or any other matters. 

On Sunday, Times of Malta reported that the police were investigating a claim peddled by former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri that Piscopo had squirrelled away upwards of €600,000 at the Jersey-based Fairbairn Private Bank.

Investigators from the police have reached out to foreign partners

Schembri used Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech to try to get the claim published in the media around January 2019. 

The story passed on to the media is understood to be that Piscopo had allegedly received kickbacks from a major infrastructure project at the time he was head of Transport Malta.

Piscopo was CEO of the Labour Party in the lead-up to the 2013 election. 

Schembri had passed on a handwritten note to Fenech purportedly written by Piscopo, detailing movements in the offshore account between 2015 and 2016, which was then passed on to the murder suspect’s contacts in the media.

Investigators from the police Financial Crimes Investigation Department have reached out to foreign partners to try to establish if the transactions in question took place, and if Piscopo was a beneficiary to the funds.

An investigation into the matter was sparked after data was seized from Fenech’s phone upon his arrest back in November 2019.

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