A woman who paid money to a Transport Malta official told police that she did so out of her own free will and only contacted the man in an attempt to “speed up the process” of her nephew getting a driving licence.

Maria Assunta Camilleri pleaded not guilty to trading in influence as well as complicity in bribing a public official when facing charges under summons.

The 36-year-old had been mentioned by investigating officer Inspector Wayne Borg when testifying in separate proceedings against Clint Mansueto, a former director at Transport Malta and two of his former subordinates Raul Antonio Pace and Philip Endrick Zammit. 

All three are currently pleading not guilty to their alleged involvement in a racket in which government officials and private individuals would seek help for particular candidates to pass their driving tests.

Among those candidates was a certain “Marcus Galdes”. His aunt, Camilleri, texted Mansueto offering him money to make sure that her relative got his driving licence, the inspector said. 

The case against Camilleri began on Monday, with Inspector Borg saying investigations into abuse at Transport Malta’s Licensing Department had kicked off towards the end of last year. 

Camilleri and Mansueto first corresponded by text on August 19, 2021 and chats continued up to February 2022. One of those messages hinted at some €50.

In one of the messages, Camilleri told Mansueto about her nephew Marcus and his upcoming driving theory test. 

One of Mansueto’s diaries, which was seized as part of the probe, featured Galdes’ name marked as “important” alongside a February date.

€50 each time she met the transport official

Mansueto also referred to Camilleri in another chat with one of the driving examiners, the court was told.

However, under police questioning, Camilleri claimed that she “solely and simply” spoken to Mansueto to “speed up the process”, since it was very important for her nephew to obtain his licence.

She admitted that she handed Mansueto €50 each time she spoke to him, but insisted that she had done so out of her own free will by way of thanking him.

Mansueto had never asked for payment, she said.

When examining the data on Mansueto’s phone, investigators also tracked another message he received from Camilleri days after her nephew passed the test. 

In that message, Camilleri asked Mansueto whether he had received the envelope she had sent him.

Yet when questioned about that matter, the woman said that she did not recall any such envelope. 

A copy of the accused’s statement as well as printed copies of chats from Mansueto’s phone, including references to Camilleri, were exhibited in evidence. 

The case, presided over by Magistrate Gabriella Vella, continues next month.

Inspector Wayne Borg is prosecuting, assisted by AG lawyers Abigail Caruana Vella and Gary Cauchi.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Marion Camilleri are defence counsels. 

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