The curious case of those who know nothing

How many times must we witness the very people entrusted with overseeing the country’s public affairs not only mismanage those affairs but then brush off any responsibility by claiming they had no knowledge of those affairs in the first place?

The alleged corruption racket at Transport Malta is simply the latest episode in maladministration, some of which have had far-reaching consequences, but we have yet to see top government officials shoulder a modicum of responsibility.

Nobody knows anything

Last week, Transport Malta director for the Land Transport Directorate Clint Mansueto, former Żebbuġ Labour councillor Philip Edrick Zammit and Raul Antonio Pace were all charged with corruption for helping learner drivers cheat on their tests.

While being questioned by the police, Mansueto claimed that he was pressured by a minister into helping certain individuals pass their driving test, adding that the individuals were allegedly working in the minister’s villa.

When the press sought answers from former Transport Minister Ian Borg, now foreign affairs minister, his spokesperson replied that he was not involved in the alleged corruption racket.

“Regarding the particular claims you are referring to, he has no recollection of such episode, nor has he ever had ‘Arab nationals’ working at his residence. He does not own any villa either,” he said.

Similarly, a spokesperson from the Office of the Prime Minister told the Times of Malta that the prime minister was “not aware of any charges having been issued against any government minister, or of any pending judicial proceedings”.

Well, it seems he did not bother to ask, either.

Nobody knows anything about Electrogas

On Sunday, The Shift revealed that the government gave what is effectively an unconditional guarantee to SOCAR Trading that it would step in to cover any of Electrogas’ debts.

Even before this latest revelation, parliament’s Public Account Committee (PAC) has spent the last two years trying to investigate the Electrogas deal after a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) highlighted “various shortcomings” and described major, often undocumented, flaws in the selection and evaluation process.

The NAO report revealed that taxpayers were overcharged by millions of euros, with the Auditor General expressing “serious reservations” about an “irregular” and “unprecedented” €360 million loan guarantee given to Electrogas by the government.

Former Enemalta chairperson Charles Mangion told the PAC that when the board endorsed the decision to award the power station contract to the Electrogas consortium, he was not aware of financial issues involving Gasol, one of the partners in the group, claiming that his role was only to “ratify” the decision to award the contract to Electrogas and this was based on the “expert advice” given to the board.

Meanwhile, Electrogas director and shareholder Paul Apap Bologna was cautioned several times by the Board of Inquiry looking into journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination as he told the judges he was unaware of several factors tied to Electrogas, some of which had been in the public domain for several months, if not years.

He even said he did not know that Electrogas had gone into default, despite it being mentioned in the Auditor General’s report, telling the board that he did not read the report “in its entirety”, leaving the three judges incredulous.

Even Konrad Mizzi, the very man at the centre of two of the country’s ruinous deals, claimed in front of the Public Accounts Committee that he was ‘just an observer‘.

Nobody knows anything about Vitals/Steward Healthcare

During his testimony in a court hearing related to the Vitals agreement – a case brought by PN MP and former Opposition leader Adrian Delia in the hopes of erasing the hospitals’ privatisation deal, former Finance Minister Edward Scicluna admitted that he was unaware of a €100 million termination clause in the Vitals agreement signed by Konrad Mizzi.

Despite serving as finance minister when the deal was being negotiated, Scicluna confessed to the court that he first heard about the side letter signed by former minister Konrad Mizzi through media reports, adding that the deal was handled largely by the health ministry.

Scicluna said was also uninformed of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed by former economy minister Chris Cardona six months before a call for proposals was issued. The MOU went into lost and found mode when journalists pressed for answers.

The hospital deal may have been handled by the health ministry, but Chris Fearne claimed he knew nothing and was not involved in anything but backed the project anyway.

Despite a damning NAO report on the hospitals’ deal, Fearne placed responsibility for that deal squarely on his predecessor as health minister Konrad Mizzi.

It was Mizzi who controlled Projects Malta, and he continued to hold the project’s reins even when he was ostensibly stripped of his ministerial portfolio, Fearne told the Board of Inquiry looking into journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, saying was only brought in after the adjudication stage.

Nobody knows who is responsible for detecting financial crimes

During a visit to Malta earlier this year, the EU’s chief prosecutor said she could not identify the institution in Malta responsible for detecting financial crimes, recalling how nobody could provide her with answers on fraud investigations.

Laura Codruța Kövesi from the European Public Prosecutor’s Office raised concerns that Malta only supported her office with words and “not with facts”.

“I visited Malta, I had meetings with the national authorities, and after two days, it was very difficult for me to identify the institution that is responsible for detecting the crimes because all of them said: “It’s not me, it’s them,” Kovesi told MEPs.

Everything must change so that everything can stay the same

Chief Justice Emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino summed up the lack of accountability by our former and current political leaders when he noted that all officials appearing before the public inquiry board looking into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia seem “keen on passing the buck”.

And for as long as the public will put up with it, shifting blame and shoulder-shrugging will continue to suffice as an answer in Malta.

                           
                               
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Paul Pullicino
Paul Pullicino
24 days ago

Right out of the BS bible –
“That’s incorrect” –  you’re 99% right but you left out a comma
“I already answered you” (wegibtek) – piss off, I don’t like follow up questions
“We have a sustainable and holistic plan” – after nine years of unsustainable policies
“There is no connection with the party” – because it is actually connected to members of  Cabinet.
“I am not aware of it” – I know about it but can’t be seen to condone nor condemn it.
“I heard about it from the media” – I knew about the deal but I found out the dirty details from the news.
“No new taxes in the upcoming budget” – we simply increase taxes, prices  and fees in January.

KLAUS
KLAUS
24 days ago
Reply to  Paul Pullicino

No. We actually do not need new taxes or tax increases.
It is enough if the “untouchables” would pay the outstanding taxes.

ROBBER Abelea seems to be one of them.

Daphne was more than right.
But one thing has changed:

Time. & Our disgust for injustice increases daily.

Francis Said
Francis Said
24 days ago

What for does government hold cabinet meetings?
When no-one seems to know nothing, hears nothing and says nothing.
What sort of good and transparent governance do we have. The PM delegates responsibilities to his respective Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries and is not kept informed of what targets each member has achieved and what concessions were awarded.
What control does the Finance Minister and the Minister of the Economy over taxpayers’ funds? Nothing or so they say.
How come Permanent Secretaries and board members of government entities, do not follow the rules that are in place to ensure that their responsibilities are carried out to the best of their abilities? Nothing
Conclusion: that is why the rule of law is no longer applicable. The general attitude is one, if our elected government breaks the code of conduct, then why should I? (Provided I have friends in high places – which I DO NOT and never had in any administration)

KLAUS
KLAUS
24 days ago

I miss JOSEPH MUSCAT on the picture:

This naive simple-minded ” individual ” would have sued someone long ago if the Panama Papers were not correct!

Travis Brannon
Travis Brannon
24 days ago

From the outside looking in, when you contemplate the sheer magnitude of the cultural catastrophe that is Malta, there is a humorous side to it. Trust me, when we read these articles in other parts of the world, having experienced Malta first hand, we laugh. It’s so egregiously bad, one can’t help falling over laughing given the gross incompetence, the unbridled greed and amorality, and the vile sleaziness that permeates Maltese culture in every way, on every street corner, in every courtroom. Malta gives shape to a real life caricature of the world’s worst and most dysfunctional human.

The fruits of the inability of Maltese society to instil a sense of self-discipline, accountability and basic morality is clearly expressed in this article. It’s not a few bad apples. It’s cultural. It’s obvious to anyone with a brain that the social institutions that shape the human animal in other Western countries, have failed dramatically in Malta. The church has failed, parenting has failed, the educational system has failed, the judicial system has failed. The police force is a failure of almost evil proportions. Social welfare services have failed. As many have said before me, Malta is rotten to the core.

The sad ugly reality is that Malta is spiritually, culturally, morally, emotionally, physically and mentally rotten. All the social grand standing, in all the pompous and pretentious, characteristically Maltese, arrogance, which tries to set itself apart from the pervasive moral rot at the heart of the culture, is (sadly) even more comical than it’s antithesis, wholesale Maltese amoral familism and it’s consequential omertàs.

James
James
23 days ago
Reply to  Travis Brannon

An excellently composed and rational synopsis of everything that is wrong in Malta.

Something which most observers across the world have understood for years and yet have had to watch in dismay as the cancer has grown without any attempt within Malta to treat the condition.

One can only hope that at long last radical change will be accepted as a necessary step to be taken to cure the cancer.

Chris
Chris
22 days ago
Reply to  Travis Brannon

“Malta gives shape to a real life caricature of the world’s worst and most dysfunctional human.”

So true, so true. But the most tragic part of it is that key players are so drenched in their arrogant stupidity, they simply think that everyone else is wrong, jealous or simply not cunning/clever enough.

This is the tragicomedy that is MALTA.

Edward Mallia
Edward Mallia
21 days ago
Reply to  Travis Brannon

Could we have some idea where Travis Bannon hails from and where he has spent his adult existence? His English for one needs some seeing to. But apart from that, his sweeping assertions, often of galactic dimensions should not really persuade anybody in his or her right senses. His facile resort to labels like “wholesale Maltese amoral familism and it’s (sic) consequential omertas (sic)” broadcasts a clear basic shallowness of approach to these matters, which appears to be mainly directed at an inflation of self-importance. Thus spake Travis Bannon. Thus it must really be. Fortunately ” it ” is not, and there is still enough of a core that is not ” spiritually culturally, morally, emotionally, physically and mentally rotten” to ensure that Bannon’s absolute zero will never be reached.

A. Fan
A. Fan
24 days ago

The proverbial three wise monkeys would do less harm than our corrupt politicians and civil servants, and for peanuts.

D.V
D.V
24 days ago

Scicluna would certainly not have recommended that ex Air Malta employees would be given a freehand to work within the Public Sector. Their salaries are extremely high when compared to the public sector employees across the board this move has been considered as an insult to the long standing employees.

The better option is to find work within the private sector. The attitude of superiority that they all have its unjustified . Who will be held accountable for these mistakes for the 50Million to be paid while they earn a 1000 euros more than you per month expecting to be given easy tasks because they have no clue what to do.

Golden Vote Holders Only!
More expenditure Air Malta
Workers who opt for a golden handshake are being offered anything between €40,000 and €300,000.
The government is offering €40,000 to those who have served up to five years; €80,000 to those serving 5-10 years; €120,000 for 10-15 years of service; €150,000 for 15-20 years of service; €180,000 for 20-25 years; €210,000 for 25-30; and €240,000 for those of over 30 years of service.

Last edited 24 days ago by D.V
Lawrence Mifsud
Lawrence Mifsud
20 days ago
Reply to  D.V

So those who would soon have left Air Malta upon reaching the retiring age will get 300,000 euro. That’s RICH!

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