PM’s secretary ‘at the heart of’ driving test corruption case, insiders claim

A prominent member of Prime Minister Robert Abela’s private secretariat used to handle the names forwarded by different ministers to Transport Malta officials involved in the drivers’ licences scandal currently before the court, insiders have told The Shift.

The prime minister has ‘categorically denied’ the Labour Party was involved in the alleged racket. Yet contrary to the impression given by Robert Abela, Transport Malta officials told The Shift: “The prime minister’s private secretary must have given him a lot of information about what was going on at Transport Malta.”

Abela’s private secretary, Rachel Debono, was Transport Malta chairman’s personal assistant until a few months ago when the prime minister handpicked her as his private secretary at Castille.

Debono, a party activist from Mellieħa, joined the transport regulator when it was being run by former Labour Party CEO James Piscopo.

She was described by Transport Malta officials as “the most trusted official of the powers that be” who handles all important matters related to the governing Labour Party.

“If the prime minister is not informed of what was, and is still, going on at Transport Malta, which no one really believes, all he has to do is to ask his personal secretary. She is very aware of what was happening with the names and diaries,” one official said.

The Shift is also informed that Debono used to handle names and pass them on to colleagues without involving herself directly in any type of corruption.

Transport Malta created a well-oiled system, mostly involving top officials recruited by Minister Ian Borg during his time as transport minister.

It seems ‘customer care’ instructions for Transport Malta’s top officials –  whether about jobs, promotions, procurement or other ‘requirements’ – were passed on directly from the transport ministry through Minister Borg’s chief advisor Jesmond Zammit.

Zammit is already involved in a number of scandals, including the recruitment at Transport Malta of his own daughter, Adreana, when she was still a law student. At the time, Ian Borg had said he had nothing to do it.

Sources said those at Transport Malta usually spoken to were Donald Gouder – a ‘canvasser’ for Ian Borg from Mġarr and a close friend of Zammit, who was recruited as TM’s chief human resources officer – and Kevin Farrugia, another ‘canvasser’ for the same minister who was recruited as deputy CEO at TM without a public call.

Clint Mansueto, a TM director facing accusations of corruption over the driver’s licence racket, used to receive instructions from Gouder, according to insiders.

It has already emerged in court that Gouder had obtained information for Mansueto that gave him an advantage during his exam for the post of Transport Malta director, where he fared better than more qualified candidates.

Gouder and Jesmond Zammit, the minister’s advisor, are known to be close friends outside office hours, and both are officials at the same football team, Qrendi FC – one as its coach and the other as team manager.

The police this week told the court that Gouder is also expected to be arraigned in court about the TM corruption scandal.

According to evidence presented in court, Mansueto used to tell examiners who should be given a push to pass driving tests. Mansueto told the court he felt obliged to do so with four candidates who were working at a “minister’s villa”.

Court evidence also revealed that Mansueto kept a diary with some 200 names of those who were helped to pass their exams. These include a ‘Francesco’ – a reporter at Labour’s One TV, and messages from the “aunt of a minister”.

According to the police, instructions were also coming in from “a political party”, which they did not name even though their investigation covered the years under a Labour administration. The Party has been in power since 2013.

More information is expected to be revealed in court in the coming days.

                           
                               
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Fred the Red
Fred the Red
7 days ago

The same Jesmond Zammit who used to coach Xewkija Tigers presumably – the one who managed to secure Bogdanovic’s release to play a football match when supposedly being held by Police in the Republic of Gozo.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
7 days ago

After all this dirt coming out about a simple written exam for the driving licence, I shudder to think what could happen in other institutions like in MATSEC examinations and at the University.

Gee Mike
Gee Mike
6 days ago
Reply to  saviour mamo

Just have a look at the quality of lawyers and architects we have, enough said.

carlos
carlos
3 days ago
Reply to  Gee Mike

ghandek habib? jekk iva tista’ ssir avukat, accountant, magistrat, perit u dak kollu li tixtieq qalbek – basta tkun parti mill-MUVUMENT KORROTT F’MAFIAMALTA. Mhux ta b’xejn nofs l-avukati u perit iqabbdu il-veru periti u avukati professjonali biex immexxulhom l-ufficcju – basta jkollhom isimimhom jidher. Nofshom iqabbdulek ukoll xi korrott/korrotta minn tal-muvument korrott bhala konsulent/a biex huma jkunu jistghu jikkwadanjaw u jkomplu jisolhu lil povru haddiem li t-taxxa titnaqqaslu qabel jiehu l-paga. ISTHU.

Francis Said
Francis Said
7 days ago

No wonder our Bobby has designated the Hon. Ian Borg as foreign Minister. Isn’t this Ministry usually the one that is given before moving on outside of being represented in Parliament?
Well he does have a few silk ties to take with him.
It seems that our Bobby is not such a fool after all.

Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
6 days ago
Reply to  Francis Said

Robert Abela is no fool indeed. In fact he picked up Rachel from TM to act as his private secretary. She passed her test, you know!

Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
7 days ago

This is how labour works. Without any shame and because they have no sense of democratic responsibility, these parasites hijacked everywhere and installed canvassers in prominent positions who are unfit to manage their roles if not to engage in serious corrupt practices. The fact that this Rachel has been hand picked to act as the PM’s private secretary means that she is one of the inner circles who pleases the PL at will, where she knows perfectly that her illicit actions will remain backed up till the end.

KLAUS
KLAUS
7 days ago

Corrupt to the bones.

ROBBER Abela is the ‚son‘ of Joseph Muscat, isn‘t he?
Is anybody (clean) out there?

Carmen
Carmen
6 days ago
Reply to  KLAUS

This is exactly the question that I constantly have on my brain – who are the clean ones whom I can vote to with peace of mind??!!!

Francis Said
Francis Said
6 days ago
Reply to  KLAUS

A DNA test should show these birds of a feather flock together.

R Pace Bonello
R Pace Bonello
7 days ago

MALTA IS NO DEMOCRACY. YOU BUY THE VOTES GET ELECTED, TAKE OVER THE INSTITUTIONS AND YOU BECOME AN AUTOCRACY. HUNGARY IS NO LONGER CONSIDERED ONE BY THE EU AND I CANNOT IMAGINE THAT MALTA STILL IS. I DO NOT KNOW IF THEIR LEVEL OF CORRUPTION IS AS HIGH AS OURS BUT WE ARE DIFFICULT TO BEAT.
WELL DONE TO YOUR INVESTIGATIVE TEAM FOR YOUR EXCELLENT REPORTING

Rodrick borg
Rodrick borg
1 day ago

Stories like these aŕe very sad to hear. Pay a bribe, get ur licence, then ups ….man riding a bicycle hit, pedestrian in ITU…… no wonder so many accidents on our roads everyday. Theres drivers out there practicing on our roads, maybe with a passenger, without experience or none. Insurance companies… Has anyone investigated if any of these people on the list caused any serious accident?
Filkaz get this gang to pay up.

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