The police are still to press criminal charges against the former secretary general of the Labour Party, Jimmy Magro, despite a recommendation made by the Commission Against Corruption more than nine months ago.
Asked repeatedly why they have not arraigned Mr Magro to face corruption charges related to a tender, the police insisted they were still investigating.
In the meantime, Malta Enterprise has suspended Mr Magro as chairman of a subsidiary company but retained him on its payroll on a half-pay basis. Mr Magro’s employment contract includes a salary of more than €50,000 a year in addition to a raft of benefits and bonuses.
Sources close to the Commission Against Corruption yesterday told the Times of Malta that the “pussyfooting by the police on this case is astounding”.
“In similar cases handled by the commission, where suspicion of corruption has been found to be committed by a public officer, the police and the Attorney General normally proceed with the arraignments.
The pussyfooting by the police on this case is astounding
“For some unknown reason, this has not happened yet with regards to Mr Magro,” the sources said.
“This is not a matter of a thorough investigation, as the commission’s report, now available to the public, is very clear,” they added.
Last January, following an investigation by the commission, it was found that Mr Magro – in his role as executive chairman of the Major Projects Coordinating Agency – had asked for a €25,000 cut for the adjudication of a waste recycling tender.
Moreover, he allegedly asked bidders to pay for a €5,000 holiday he took in Alsace, France, in 2014.
The Commission Against Corruption, which is headed by Judge Lawrence Quintano, concluded it was a clear case “of corruption or an attempt of corruption by a public officer that should be ultimately decided by a court”.
The commission added it was “morally convinced” that Mr Magro had sought money through the tender. He has denied any wrongdoing, that he sought a cut or asked bidders to pay for his holiday.
“In 2014, I had an income of €100,000 and did not need any money,” he told the commission. Despite the commission’s report, his arraignment remains elusive.
Last Monday, in a hard-hitting speech at the opening of the forensic year, Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri pointed to the role of the police and the Attorney General in upholding the rule of law.
In an unusual speech, he said the courts could never be the final bulwark in the defence of the rule of law if the police and the Attorney General failed to enforce it.