“Anyone who thinks this is some breaking news, it’s not,” Robert Abela commented about the shocking disability benefits scandal. For Abela it wasn’t breaking news. He knew about it for years and sneakily concealed it. He never made any reference to it in two years.
For the rest of the nation, it’s massive breaking news. Times of Malta’s reports about the multi-million-euro scam were inundated with thousands of angry comments.
Poor Abela. What a loser. The man keeps getting it wrong every time. There’s nothing new here, he maintained. Why all this fuss?
Abela knew about the mega fraud and let Silvio Grixti resign, quietly and without explanation. He then paid him hundreds of thousands of euros to keep him quiet. Grixti got €68,621 as OPM adviser, €50,761 as Transport Malta consultant, €23,123 as health consultant and thousands more as Lands Authority medical board member and as member of the welfare committee.
Abela never learns. He thinks the whole thing will die down if he keeps lying. “My government put an immediate stop to the disability benefits racket,” he bluffed at Marsaxlokk.
That racket continued for years. It was still running, months after Grixti’s resignation. An estimated 800 people fraudulently benefitted. Millions of euros were stolen. If Abela’s government had put an “immediate stop” to the racket, only a handful, maybe 20, at most 100, fraudsters would have got away with it. Over 800 did. They all cashed in their ill-gotten gains for years. That’s no “immediate stop”. Who does Abela think he’s kidding?
“There were robust systems in place against abuse at the Social Security Department,” Abela declared. Those “robust” systems allowed hundreds of people to cheat the State of millions of euros for years.
Abela’s claims get increasingly absurd. Everybody realises that the massive scam worked because a criminal organisation was involved.
“Political decisions were taken as soon as it became known how the investigation was developing,” the OPM declared. OPM publicly admitted Abela knew about the investigations and how they were “developing”. Who told Abela? What did he know and when? The OPM also claimed it “immediately reported the benefits abuse to the police as soon as it became aware back in 2021”.
So, if the OPM knew about the benefits abuse then, why is Abela claiming they are “still allegations”? His office insisted that “people were using the case for ulterior motives and wanted to manipulate information”. They called Times of Malta’s revelations “comments and insinuations for political gain”. They described “as groundless the opposition’s allegations”.
Groundless? How many more hundreds of people need to be convicted and sentenced for the devious Abela to admit those revelations are true?
Abela’s default reaction to damning revelations of his party’s wrongdoing, corruption and crime is to try and rubbish the claims. When that fails,
he resorts to his standard whataboutism. Labour’s newspaper KullĦadd and ONE news reported the abuse of allowances as their headline – not the current disability allowance but a fake racket during Lawrence Gonzi’s premiership in 2006. Labour retaliated by throwing mud at everybody. KullĦadd’s front story had one message – you see, even Gonzi did it, so why the fuss about us? Everybody does it, so what?
KullĦadd alleged that during Gonzi’s premiership there was a massive racket in invalidity pensions costing the State over €80 million. Without any evidence KullĦadd claimed that when it was reported to the police, investigations stopped because of political interference. The claims were as outrageous as they were bizarre. Labour was shooting itself in both feet.
Poor Robert Abela. What a loser. The man keeps getting it wrong every time- Kevin Cassar
First it admitted its involvement in the current scam while presenting a fictitious PN scam as justification for its own scandal. Secondly, if Gonzi’s racket were true, it shows the institutions don’t work. If they did, they would surely have convicted and jailed the perpetrators and recouped the €80 million stolen from the State.
Labour’s been in power for a decade. Surely, its robust institutions would have had the time to gather the necessary overwhelming evidence to charge Gonzi and those “very close to the PN government”.
Labour failed the nation thrice over.
It allowed hundreds of people to steal millions of euros from the State. After two years, Grixti is still running free and making money. And it’s lying about others to muddy the waters.
Abela took it a step further. Look at Roberta Metsola, he shrieked. She’s only taken “cosmetic steps” in the Eva Kaili case. And what about Gonzi and Bernard Grech? “They are in no position to criticise the government because of scandals that happened on their watch,” he screamed. So, it is just fine for Labour to run a massive criminal scheme then?
There were more sinister threats and intimidation from Abela. He turned on the very vulnerable people caught up in the scam. He challenged them “to come up with proof to substantiate their claims”.
Those vulnerable individuals should be given reassurance that they’ll be protected if they testify and expose the “big fish”. It’s not their role to provide “the proof”. That’s the police’s duty. The police should have raided the PM, Grixti’s offices, Sonya Abela’s and Sandro Craus’ computer. They should have impounded Owen Bonnici’s and Abela’s phones, confiscated their electronic equipment.
Instead, the police did nothing. Abela now resorts to open threats to those exploited in the scam. He knows they’re helpless. He knows they feel exposed. They’re the ones dragged before the court and made to pay back money they don’t have and sentenced to prison. Instead of offering them protection to reveal the names of those who lured them into the circle of crime, Abela intimidates them to ensure their silence.
“The people Times of Malta spoke to had already been investigated by the authorities,” the OPM commented. How do they know? Some of those people had their identity obscured, their voices changed to avoid identification. The OPM is openly threatening them too.
We know who you are, is the OPM’s message, even though your voice was muffled. The OPM has all the information it needs. Speak up at your own risk. That is nothing but utter depravity from Abela.