A call to replace disgraced Transport Malta (TM) director Clint Mansueto will be announced “within a month”, according to government sources.
Mansueto was suspended from his role as director at the Land Transport Directorate – a division of TM – in August after becoming embroiled in an alleged driving test corruption scandal last year.
He is accused of having led a racket along with two others to ensure specific candidates obtained their driving licences, allegedly telling instructors to “take care” of candidates flagged by “some ministry or Castille”.
Two of his subordinates, Żebbuġ Labour councillor Philip Edrick Zammit and Raul Antonio Pace, were also implicated and suspended as part of a police investigation into the alleged racket. All three remain suspended on half pay.
A call to find a replacement for Mansueto will be issued internally first before being opened to a public call should a suitable candidate not be found, sources said.
'Turn over a new leaf'
It is understood the new director’s role will include leading efforts to modernise the directorate and overseeing the Driver Permits, Testing and Training Unit (DPTTU), as part of “massive changes” within the top levels of the authority.
Renewed calls from driving instructors last month for safe areas to train beginner drivers are also expected to be looked at by the new director.
Sources told Times of Malta that a replacement was being sought for the unit to “turn over a new leaf... [after becoming] marred with controversy and corruption”.
TM had also moved to engage the services of the International Commission for Driver Testing (CIECA), which is expected to begin preparing an assessment of the unit in September, sources said.
According to its website, the CIECA “ promotes... driving competence that supports international recognition and security of driving licences”. It is active in 38 countries.
An investigation into the alleged test-fixing began back in 2020 after the police were tipped off to the scheme by a translator who regularly worked with the transport authority.
The translator claimed that Mansueto had asked him to indicate the correct answer to students on several occasions, with payments for his work in such cases given in cash rather than via regular invoices.
Other examiners also came forward during the investigation, telling the police that Mansueto and Pace would sometimes send for them in the morning, flagging a list of candidates needing help.
Some of those examiners were newcomers and “were afraid to say no since they feared losing their job”, an inspector in the case testified last year. Last month, one examiner said in court some candidates were so bad that he would have to drive them back after the test as they were a “danger to the public”.
When questioned by the police in August, Mansueto told investigators he had felt “pressured” to help certain Arab nationals pass their tests “because they were working at a villa belonging to a government minister”.
At the time of the alleged racket, Transport Malta was part of the ministerial portfolio of Ian Borg, who led the authority between 2017 and the 2022 general election.
In August, Borg, who is now foreign minister, told Times of Malta through a spokesperson that he used to maintain regular contact with Mansueto, as with all other directors at the time.
He described Mansueto as a “person of good character and hard-working”, the spokesperson said in a written statement.
When asked about the case, Borg said he had “no recollection of such episode, nor had he ever had ‘Arab nationals’ working at his residence”.
He said he did not own a “villa”, either.
All cabinet members denied involvement in the alleged racket when contacted at the time.
The Nationalist Party said that the minister responsible should be named and shamed.