Transport Malta has found itself amid a new controversy after it allowed a company to import and register three limousines from Lithuania against its own rules.
After almost two years of pressure from rival companies, citing foul play, Transport Malta has started court action against the importer. However, it still allows him to continue with his commercial operations until a final court decision has been reached.
This means that despite the possible illegalities, including fraud, the company can continue using the ‘irregular’ commercial cars and continue its business for years until the court case is finally over.
The ‘magic’ limos
In 2021, Qormi-based company Luxe Limos made three large limousines available for rent for parties, weddings and other special occasions.
The cars were put on the road after they ‘passed’ the necessary verifications by Transport Malta and were given proper registration and number plates.
However, rival companies in the same line of business immediately cried foul play as Maltese law states that such vehicles can only be registered if they are under seven years old.
Reports sent to Transport Malta in 2021 and seen by The Shift show that another importer was prevented from bringing the same three limos into Malta as he was told they were way over the seven-year limit. Other stakeholders in the sector could not understand how the same vehicles were then registered with a different importer just a couple of months later.
The Shift contacted the original importer, who said he could not understand why Transport Malta had agreed to register the vehicles for a different importer.
Another stakeholder in the same line of business told The Shift that Transport Malta was made aware of the issue two years ago. “They told me they were investigating; however, I’ve heard nothing yet, and the cars are still on the road, being hired for weddings and events,” they said, adding it amounted to “blatant abuse.”
The Shift contacted Transport Malta’s CEO Jonathan Borg to ask if they had received information on possible fraud and falsification of documents regarding the limos and which official would be responsible, but he did not reply.
The Shift also contacted Simon Cassar, the owner of Luxe Limos. When asked who issued the registration of his vehicles, he did not reply, but he added, “What I can say is that I am in court with Transport Malta over the issue.”
Further questions on why Transport Malta is allowing Luxe Limos to continue operating the vehicles while the matter is in court were not answered by Borg by the time of publication.
Transport Malta has been involved in a number of controversies and claims of sleaze and corruption over the past few years, with legal action taken against several of its officials for irregularities and corruption.
However, whether an internal investigation into the limo situation has been initiated is unknown.
A few days ago, Prime Minister Robert Abela removed Aaron Farrugia from his position as transport minister and instead appointed Chris Bonnet.