Opinion: Covering his own arse

“Don’t you think you should have resigned?” Minister Michael Falzon was asked following revelations about the massive benefits fraud scandal.

“Look, I know the Leader of the Opposition said, ‘We should remove them from the seat of power’.  I understand that the seat of power is the only drive the Opposition Leader appears to have… Had I been involved in it, I would have no difficulty (resigning)”.

Minister Falzon has been the social policy minister for years. He’s responsible for ensuring disability benefits aren’t stolen by a criminal organisation providing forged certificates on an industrial scale.

Instead, he let hundreds of fraudsters steal millions of euros in benefits to which they weren’t entitled. 

Falzon is responsible for that theft. Yet Falzon sees no reason to resign.

Falzon is either blind or deceitful. He is responsible for appointing medical board members meant to scrutinise benefits claims. 

So, who did Labour appoint?

They appointed Censu Moran, an 84-year-old former Health Minister in Mintoff’s Cabinet.

Labour also appointed a septuagenarian, Anglu Psaila – a Labour candidate and long-retired physician.

It established Silvio Grixti, the former Labour MP, now being scapegoated for ‘single-handedly’ masterminding the intricate scam. 

Labour appointed Adrian Vassallo and Anthony Zammit, both former Labour MPs.

They appointed Joseph Cassar Delia, a former Labour candidate who graduated in the year man first landed on the moon.

It appointed Nazzareno Azzopardi, an honest and upright former Labour Party candidate, who graduated two years before John F. Kennedy was shot.

Labour also appointed Jan Chircop, the son of former Labour MP Karl Chircop, when he had only been fully registered as a doctor for two years and before he could have possibly completed any specialist training. Labour appointed trainees to those medical boards.

Labour even appointed a former Labour MP’s son, who hadn’t even completed medical registration.  The doctor sat on those medical boards illegally.  He wasn’t registered to practise medicine. He had limited registration and could only work in government institutions under supervision. He had only graduated one year earlier and was still in pre-registration training.

This is Labour’s doing. It stuffed those medical boards with former Labour MPs, former Labour candidates and sons of former Labour MPs, some of whom weren’t fully registered. Some of them left active medical practice decades earlier.  Some, like Espedito Rapa, graduated in 1961 when Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space.

Many of Labour’s appointees were completely cut off from modern practice and didn’t know who the specialists practising at the country’s main hospital were. Most would not know modern investigative techniques for disabling medical conditions mentioned in specialist reports. Others were still in training.

But when Michael Falzon was asked whether he should resign, he replied: “Had I been involved in it, I would have”.

Falzon and Labour ministers before him corrupted those medical boards.  They used those appointments as financial rewards for a few chosen ones. Those appointees weren’t selected for their experience in the field of disability. 

They weren’t chosen because they were experienced in scrutinising disability benefits applications. They were put on the boards for Labour’s purposes.  Michael Falzon has a lot to answer for.

Those medical board members admitted that “many board interviews lasted five minutes”. Speaking anonymously to The Times of Malta, they claimed “there was no way they could have detected the fraud”.

Yet the fraud could easily have been detected. 

Anybody claiming to suffer repeated epileptic fits would be on medication provided through government services.  All the board needed to do was check what medication the government pharmacy services dispensed to the claimant. They could have checked whether their driving licence had indeed been withdrawn.

It would take an experienced practising clinician just two minutes with those fraudulent claimants to realise they never actually experienced an epileptic fit.  They would have been unable to name a single drug used for the condition or how frequently they were meant to take it.

They would have no Schedule V card with their anti-epileptic medications listed. They would have been unable to describe investigations, like electroencephalography, they supposedly underwent. They couldn’t identify where specialists had supposedly seen them or when.

“The doctors who appeared to have signed the documents are our colleagues, mentors and friends. We trust them blindly”, the board members said in their defence.

Only the most naive wouldn’t suspect that where there’s the promise of financial reward, there will be fraudsters attempting to get that money.

“It’s not that we were carelessly shunning our responsibilities, but when you open the envelope and see a trusted doctor’s signature confirming a disability that qualifies for benefit, that’s all you need to know – it’s case closed in a few minutes”, the board members commented anonymously.

Dr Anthony Galea Debono, one of the specialists whose signature was forged, revealed that his forged certificates included a Mater Dei hospital stamp. He’d left Mater Dei years before.  His forged letters were riddled with grammatical errors and made no medical sense. None of the members of the board noticed, repeatedly.

Michael Falzon failed to prevent fraud, creating fertile ground for epic fraud to thrive. He had plenty of time to study at close range the utter ineffectiveness of those boards.

Grixti resigned in December 2021. Falzon only flagged suspicious applications around September 2022. It’s taken him another year to appoint an ‘Independent Board’ to investigate the “medical verification of applications”.

Now he’s willfully botched that, too. He’s appointed retired Judge Antonio Mizzi, husband of Labour’s former MEP Marlene Mizzi, to head that Board. He was found to have breached the judiciary’s code of ethics.

Yet Falzon chose him. None of the board members have any medical experience.  They know nothing about medical certification, medical assessment of disability, medical treatment of epilepsy and other disabling conditions.

Falzon isn’t interested in fixing his apocalyptic blunders.  He only wants to cover his arse.

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Paul Henry Berman
Paul Henry Berman
12 days ago

He has a history of appointing unqualified people into jobs they are not capable of doing

12 days ago

“But when Michael Falzon was asked whether he should resign, he replied: “Had I been involved in it, I would have”.”

That’s what a shady politician with an EXPOSED arse would say.

Tawdry. Twisted. Two-faced.

and ultimately TERMINAL.

12 days ago

“Falzon is either blind or deceitful” Just another MLP bare face liar. DON’T come looking for my vote in the next GE.

Godfrey Leone Ganado
Godfrey Leone Ganado
12 days ago

In a private company the directors are jointly and severally responsible for any mismangement and wrongfull trading/fraud. This is clearly spelt out in the Letter of Representation signed on behalf of the Board by the Chairman or one of the directors.
The board members, in their defence said that “the doctors who appeared to have signed the documents are our colleagues, mentors and friends. We trust them blindly.”
This is the most incriminating statement one can make about one’s independence and also against one’s appointee, that is Minister Falzon and also against the Prime Minister who surely had a say in the approval of the individual directors. I would also highlight specifically the Minister of Finance who should be carrying out a due diligence on every director appointed for government boards and Institutions.
If this is the overall understanding of independence and standards, the Standards Commissioner should not waste any time and run away from his appointment unless he was made to sign such a declaration and naievly or ignorantly signed it.

Last edited 12 days ago by Godfrey Leone Ganado
A. Fan
A. Fan
12 days ago

There’s apparently an endless supply of eager monkeys for any MLP scam (all game to be blind, deaf and/or dumb as required).

Carmel Spiteri
Carmel Spiteri
12 days ago

As I always referred to: We have a SOCIAL INJUSTICE Ministry not a Social Justice one. Obviously that is only for this Ministry. As Daphne said: There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate. This has been 5 years ago.

12 days ago

Falzon is a lier and a acamplice with them all

Mark Sant (Misha)
Mark Sant (Misha)
12 days ago

“Had I been involved in it, I would have”. What kind of remark is that? If the minister is involved he should be prosecuted. Resigning does not cut it.

“when you open the envelope and see a trusted doctor’s signature confirming a disability that qualifies for benefit, that’s all you need to know – it’s case closed in a few minutes”. Really, then why have a board then? What exactly is the board’s job to push papers and approve applications blindly?

I really had enough of this country!

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