Consumers who stole electricity would be expected to reveal the names of those who tampered with their smart meters if they wanted to avoid going to court, the parliamentary secretary for justice, Owen Bonnici, said this evening.

The government, he said, wanted to catch "the spider that spun the web" rather than the "small fish".

Those consumers who were involved in the illegal scheme had to pay for the electricity they stole, he said. They would also have to pay a penalty and come forward with information on those who masterminded the scheme.

He urged consumers with tampered smart meters to come forward with information rather than wait for the corporation to identify them.

Dr Bonnici was speaking during a government consultation meeting in the series Gvern li jisma.

Meanwhile, in a statement the government defended its decision to avoid court action to those who paid for the electricity they stole, plus a penalty.

It said Enemalta had been losing some €30m a year in loss revenue from theft of electricity and then minister Tonio Fenech was somehow saying he had not known what was happening. 

It was the former government which introduced regulations which allowed Enemalta to reach administrative arrangements with those who stole electricity while it was the present government which discovered how some 1,000 meters had been tampered. As a result, a number of people were taken to court.