Tista’ taqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti
Senior Infrastructure Malta (IM) officials have been informally advised to “destroy all form of evidence” related to alleged massive irregularities and suspected sleaze involving millions of euro in crooked contracts and payment approvals for road projects before Minister Aaron Farrugia and CEO Ivan Falzon officially call in the police to start ‘an investigation’, The Shift is informed.
Following reports by The Shift of how some €1 million in direct orders recently ended up at two companies owned by the brother of Infrastructure Malta’s Head of Implementation, Noel Vella, the newsroom has been inundated with reports of more abuse and possible blatant corruption in the way contracts are being handed out to friends, along with reports of how the value of the direct orders increased along the way with the approval of “additional works” and “variations” in full complicity with some IM officials.
Sources inside Infrastructure Malta confirmed to The Shift that while CEO Ivan Falzon is so far resisting calling in the police, “as he fears the unveiling of a massively corrupt system that will lead to arrests and charges against some of his trusted officials”, instructions were informally given to “prepare for the worst” and to “destroy all the evidence”.
The same sources said that while an internal witch hunt is ongoing to try to establish who was responsible for leaks to the press, senior officers were advised to get rid of any form of incriminating evidence, including compromising emails and even WhatsApp messages on their personal mobile phones.
The sources said that while the offices of Noel Vella, the Head of Implementation, and architect Roderick Bonnici seem to be the busiest in checking their documentation, including variations approvals and payments affected, other officials are “getting very worried”.
Since CEO Ivan Falzon and the minister responsible, Aaron Farrugia, are taking their time to call in the police as they are obliged to do, “many of those involved have their minds at rest that once all evidence vanishes, the police can be called in, so nothing is found”.
Both the minister and the CEO are meanwhile refusing to explain why the police have not been called in to investigate Infrastructure Malta’s operations.
They were also mum when The Shift asked them to state whether they are comfortable with the latest revelations that direct orders are ending up at companies controlled by Jonathan Vella, the brother of the second most senior official at Infrastructure Malta after the CEO.
The Shift is informed that while the prime minister is fully aware of what has been going on at the roads agency, he is also trying to postpone a probe because a number of major contractors benefitting from the system are significant donors to the Labour Party. Some were even his clients at his private legal practice.
With a budget of some €700 million for the last five years, Infrastructure Malta became a honey pot for a few companies securing multi-million-euro contracts.
The funds also attracted businessmen previously unknown in the field who saw an opportunity to invest in machinery and to try for a slice of the cake.
Since Infrastructure Malta began using a different procurement system, through a so-called ‘framework contract’, it has been handing out direct orders, and people both from within and outside the agency have seized the opportunity to make the most out of the system’s loose checks and balances and accountability.
In addition to spending tens of millions of euro on contracts to upgrade the national road network, projects are being delayed and costing additional millions of euro in works and direct orders that get approved along the way by Infrastructure Malta senior officials.
No audit has so far been carried out to establish Infrastructure Malta’s value for money on these contracts, nor is there a benchmark amount that every kilometre of new road is supposed to cost in accordance with international standards.
It is an open secret that a number of major road contractors donated undeclared tens of thousands of euro to the Labour Party as a whole, and specific individual candidates during the last electoral campaign.
One of the main beneficiaries of the ‘electoral help’ was a cabinet member based in the Rabat district. Prime Minister Robert Abela removed Ian Borg’s responsibility for Infrastructure Malta and was named foreign minister after the last general elections.