Justice Minister cannot explain his own tax return

Income from direct orders ‘missing’.

 

Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis cannot explain how he declared earning three times the salary paid to MPs in 2018 while failing to list income from a number of direct orders he received from the government in the same year.

According to the tax return presented to the Commissioner of Inland Revenue for the 2018 year of assessment, Zammit Lewis declared earning €67,000 from the House of Representatives despite MPs being paid just over €21,000 a year.

Zammit Lewis, who did not occupy a Cabinet role at the time, was also given a number of direct orders in the same year and yet this income was not listed in the same tax declaration.

Zammit Lewis, at the time an MP and a practising lawyer, also declared earning €20,667 from his legal profession.

Asked last October to explain his tax declaration for 2018, a spokesman for the Justice Minister took two months to provide an answer, as he said that he had to look at the actual documents.

When the reply to The Shift’s questions finally arrived, it was incomprehensible.

Confirming that during 2018 the Justice Minister did not form part of Cabinet and was only an MP, the spokesman could not explain how Zammit Lewis declared earning close to €67,000 from parliament.

“In 2018, Dr Zammit Lewis only had the Honoraria that covered his respective roles of Member of Parliament, Chairperson of the Foreign and European Affairs Committee and Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Appointments. The remuneration for these roles does not amount to the sum you mentioned (i.e. €66,837),” he told The Shift.

He failed to explain why the Justice Minister had declared that amount as income in his tax return. He also failed to explain why no income from the various government jobs he was given was included in the tax return.

Zammit Lewis was Tourism Minister until mid-2017 when failed to get re-elected to parliament on his own steam and only managed to return through a casual election after the polls. This made him miss his Cabinet re-appointment and had to wait on the backbench until a new vacancy arose.

Despite losing his ministerial salary (€54,000), he was given lucrative government contracts when Joseph Muscat was at the helm – his childhood friend and frequent travel companion. The direct orders included €1,000 a week from Identity Malta and €4,333 a month as a consultant to the Minister for Water and Energy.

Notices in the Government Gazette at the time also showed that together with the sister of Minister Miriam Dalli, Veronique, Zammit Lewis was also given a €45,000 legal consultancy at the National Development and Social Fund, responsible for the cash derived from the sale of passports. He was also made a consultant at the Lands Authority.

Income from all these jobs was not included in Zammit Lewis’s tax declaration.

His wife, an established notary by profession, declared earning just €19,597 during the same year.

With some €5,600 additional income from rents, the Zammit Lewis couple declared a joint income of €112,701 in 2018.

Zammit Lewis, now justice minister, was among the Cabinet Ministers who defended the Muscat administration.

Only a few weeks ago, Zammit Lewis hit the headlines once again as Lovin Malta revealed that in 2014 he had gone on a family holiday with the Muscats and stayed at a French Hilton Hotel owned by the Tumas Group.

Asked repeatedly to state whether they had paid for the lodging at the Hilton, Zammit Lewis did not reply. He did say he was sure he had paid for the flights.

It is not yet known whether the expensive lodging was a gift to Muscat and Zammit Lewis which, according to the code of ethics, should have been declared.

The revelations came after similar disclosures about Justice Shadow Minister Jason Azzopardi who had received similar free lodging at the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv.

                           
                               
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D M Briffa
D M Briffa
10 months ago

If Labour ever get kicked out of power I hope a future government will look into the very important question of what work was actually produced in return for these lavish ‘consultancies’. One often gets the impression that the jobs are conjured up from thin air. If this can be proved it is a fraud on the taxpayer and the appointer and appointee deserve to be prosecuted.

Jools Seizure
Jools Seizure
10 months ago
Reply to  D M Briffa

Unfortunately, there seems to be a tacit agreememt between the two parties not to dig up the dirt of each others’ past. It’s game over for this country my friend. I remember someone saying the situation is desperate.

Paul Pullicino
Paul Pullicino
10 months ago
Reply to  D M Briffa

And now we can see their solution to this sleazy practice in the form of new ministries with ministers without real substance. The costs of minister, entourage and perks are larger than the portfolio’s.

Godfrey Leone Ganado
Godfrey Leone Ganado
10 months ago

Moneyval, please note.
This is the prototype Labour MP.
We are being governed by a gang who indulge in the opposite to good governance , who breach all basics of ethics and independence and who would miserably fail any basic due diligence procedure.
Giving Malta a very dark shade of grey listing will perhaps start to convince our upcoming generation of political aspirants, our Chairpersons and CEO’s of supposedly Independent Institutions, our aspirimg members of the judiciary, our future Business and Professional members and leaders, and our young new voters, a sense of urgency in safeguarding their bread and butter issues and their true well-being, by collectively starting out on the road to painfully restore Malta’s acquired notorious reputation, based on no-tolerance to corruption, no-tolerance to a hub of illegal activity, no-tolerance to a home base for money launderers, terrorists and mafia organisations, no-tolerance to an Interntional smuggling centre, no-tolerance to a fake rule of law and no tolerance to State assassinations and gagging of journalists who fight against the freedom of expression, justice and peace, and all that makes a society decent and well-respected worldwide.
Moneyval – this is the service you will be giving us with a dark rating and a hard warning. Please note that you have to be cruelly realistic to be kind.

Francis
Francis
10 months ago

I couldn’t agree more. This country needs to swallow a bitter pill

carlo
carlo
10 months ago
Reply to  Francis

Unfortunately, the bitter PILLS are for the honest worker. If Moneyval accepts this mess we’re in, then there’s no solution to this mafia island.

Leonard Schembri
Leonard Schembri
9 months ago

I was amazed to read your poisoned words. Before you wrote your comment did you weigh well what the consequences of your poison would do to the ordinary citizen? Did you take into consideration all the thousands of jobs that could be lost just because 200 to 300 people think or believe that they own this island or because they do their very utmost not to pay what is due to the State? Or because they abuse their power in some way or other? I always pray that their turn will come when all our institutions are in full gear.
No wise man (old and tertiary educated) would have written what you wrote. Talking among your political friends is one thing but writing words of poison is another. So be careful that your friends whoever they might be, don’t fire you all up where you go home and put poisoned words to paper.

Joseph Micallef
Joseph Micallef
10 months ago

In maltese there is a saying translated as “cut off the tail of a pig and it still remains a pig”.
I think this applies to all labour mp’s the same labour who in the past made a whole hulabaloo about €500 a week official rise for mp’s.

carlo
carlo
10 months ago

and a fuss on Tonio Fenech’s arlogg tal-lira and the VAT receipt not given to his maid. SHAME on the muvument korrott li qarraq bil-haddiem onest u spicca f’halq il-kapitalisti ilpup.

Paul Bonello
10 months ago
Reply to  carlo

What you say about Labour corruption is all true but do not try to sanctify Tonio Fenech, an as ghastly a personage.

Simon Oosterman
Simon Oosterman
10 months ago

Par for the course in today’s Malta.

viv
viv
10 months ago

Justice minister has neither the sophistication nor artifice to think up his own excuses.

Henry s Pace
Henry s Pace
10 months ago

It looks like a (Jerry ) lewis comedy !

carlo
carlo
10 months ago

M’hemmx x’taghzel – kollha l-istess. Ezempju car ta kemm l-artful corrupt dodger u shabu telghu biex isiru miljunarji min fuq dahar il-povru haddiem. SHAME
Nistaqsi – int haddiem onest kemm l-elf qlajt f’dawn l-ahhar tmien snin?

Paul Bonello
10 months ago
Reply to  carlo

Ma telghux ghalhekk imma kif raw lil JM, KS u KM jaghmlu hekk, il bicca l kbira minnhom ghamlu bhalhom

Aggie
Aggie
10 months ago

Another one who should be sacked … is there no one in positions of authority who isnt related to someone else in a job where they can collude to steal money?
Piggy in the trough, your time is up, off to slaughter …

Toni Borg
Toni Borg
10 months ago

What a load of jerks!!!!

and with Robert Abela leading this gang of thieves, what chances does the commissioner of inland revenue have of ever finding the truth….not that he wants to mind you!!!

Nik
Nik
10 months ago

Is that all during the boom of property sales? ” Zammit Lewis’s tax declaration.His wife, an established notary by profession, declared earning just €19,597 during the same year.

Joseph Borg
Joseph Borg
9 months ago

How come no one mentions making a public register available of EVERYONE’s tax return?

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