Tista’ taqra l-artiklu bil-Malti hawn.
Despite myriad institutional reports, press revelations and watchdog probes, much of the wrongdoing involving individuals at the top levels of government and the police force in recent years has gone unpunished.
Law enforcement authorities have announced investigations and spoken of ‘possible charges’ against some in the light of evidence exposed, although this has so far led to nothing.
The years pass and citizens remain in the dark on the progress of any of these investigations on crime and abuse first revealed by journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia or related to her assassination.
For the day that marks four and a half years since she was brutally killed by a car bomb, The Shift has compiled a list of the individuals who’ve been named in the most serious of crimes, yet have somehow succeeded in evading justice. At least, so far.
Those in power
Joseph Muscat: The disgraced former prime minister has been linked to most of the major scandals that plagued his tenure at the head of government. From his alleged connection with Panama company Egrant, his constant defence of ministers known to be orchestrating corrupt projects such as the Electrogas power plant, the Vitals/Steward hospital deal and the American ‘University’, to the climate of impunity that led to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Muscat has been spared the kind of rigorous investigation such allegations should trigger. The revelation that, after leaving office, he received payments of tens of thousands of euros from Accutor AG and Spring X Media, both being companies linked to Vitals and Steward Healthcare, has confirmed that Muscat remains top of the list of politicians who’ve so far escaped justice.
Keith Schembri: Joseph Muscat’s former chief of staff, currently being prosecuted for fraud and money laundering in a case involving The Times of Malta publisher Allied Newspapers, was widely reputed to be the brains behind the criminal intent that drove Muscat’s legislatures. Apart from allegations of being the architect of some of the most corrupt deals in Malta’s history, he’s also been mentioned multiple times by several witnesses in the Caruana Galizia murder trial as having been involved in the conspiracy, as having passed on information about the police investigation to the triggermen, and as having sought to pervert the course of justice even further by attempting to pin the blame on former minister Chris Cardona.
Konrad Mizzi: The former minister‘s controversial Electrogas power plant deal, slammed by the Auditor General and the focus of Caruana Galizia’s investigations in the last months of her life, has been proven to have been the linchpin of the plot to eliminate her and silence her revelations. His roles in any of the hospitals deal, the Electrogas power station deal and the Mozura windfarm swindle should have been enough to spark detailed investigations. He’s been questioned by police a number of times, but no charges have followed even as he continued to take parliament’s public accounts committee for a ride.
Chris Cardona: Multiple witnesses in the Caruana Galizia murder trial have talked of the former economy minister Chris Cardona having hatched a ‘parallel plot’ to kill the journalist in 2015. Caruana Galizia exposed him as having been seen frolicking in a German brothel while abroad on State business. He’s also been named as having been involved in the attempted armed robbery of a bank and is the subject of a magisterial inquiry (along with Mizzi and Edward Scicluna) into the Vitals deal – launched over two years ago with no result as yet.
Carmelo Abela: The former minister’s continued presence in Cabinet for years after he was accused of being the inside man in the same bank heist in which Cardona’s been implicated was a scandal in itself. The fact that Abela misled the public about having been summoned to court to testify over his alleged role made this even more shocking. Since the last election, he’s no longer in Cabinet, but despite the details of his alleged involvement having become common knowledge, there is no sign of any progress in investigations.
Edward Scicluna: The former finance minister and current Central Bank governor, who’s responsible for, among other things, the licencing of money-laundrette Pilatus Bank, and facilitating and approving the corrupt deals that stripped Malta’s coffers and led to our formerly-respected financial services jurisdiction being turned into an international pariah, has been under investigation (along with Mizzi and Cardona) since 2019 in a magisterial inquiry into the hospitals’ scandal for his role in authorising a deal that’s been described as daylight robbery of public funds. Yet, astonishingly, he’s still serving as Central Bank Governor, with a €100,000 salary that he himself, in one of his last acts as finance minister, boosted by €11,000 just before he took office.
Lawrence Cutajar: The former police commissioner’s claim to fame was heading out to eat rabbit when Ali Sadr of Pilatus Bank was caught on camera in 2017 leaving the now-shuttered bank’s offices in the middle of the night with bulging bags a few hours after Daphne Caruana Galizia had reported that the owner of Egrant was Michelle Muscat, the wife of disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat. Cutajar is the subject of an ongoing police investigation (that’s been ongoing for at least a year) into communication he had with Edwin Brincat (il-Ġojja), a close associate of Melvin Theuma, the self-confessed middlemen in the 2017 assassination of Caruana Galizia. Cutajar had held secret meetings with Brincat on the eve of his testimony in court in the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech, possibly jeopardising the murder investigation.
Ray Aquilina: Superintendent Ray Aquilina, who used to head the Economic Crimes Unit, was arrested and interrogated a year ago, in April 2021, in connection with the alleged leaks from the investigation into the murder of Caruana Galizia. The police are also looking into his possible involvement in financial crimes. The police are also supposed to be investigating his connections with developer Joseph Portelli – the deals under scrutiny involve the transfer of property to Aquilina’s relatives that later ended up in the hands of the former police superintendent. Nothing has been heard on the investigation since the arrest and no charges have been filed.
Ian Abdilla: In August 2021, it was reported that Assistant Police Commissioner Ian Abdilla could face criminal charges for his failure to investigate politicians exposed in the Panama Papers. Abdilla was suspended and put on half pay by police commissioner Angelo Gafà with the public service commission asked to investigate whether there are grounds for his dismissal from the police force. The Shift revealed earlier this month that not only have no charges been filed, but the disgraced former assistant police commissioner remains on half-pay in the corps.
Silvio Valletta: In January 2020, the police confirmed it was investigating ex-deputy police chief Silvio Valletta following media reports concerning the relationship with accused murderer Yorgen Fenech. Despite being aware of Fenech’s ownership of money-laundering vehicle 17 Black, Valletta joined Fenech on two trips abroad in 2018, one to Kyiv to watch the Championship Final and then to London to see a Chelsea match the following September. In November 2019, Fenech was arrested and charged with conspiring to murder Caruana Galizia in a car bomb outside her Bidnjia home in October 2017. When handling investigations, Valletta was married to then Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana. After two years, Valletta has faced no charges.