Prime minister fails to declare wife’s assets as ethics probe begins

Prime Minister Robert Abela has failed to declare his wife Lydia’s assets, including bank deposits, property, and any income, as required by law in his annual declaration of assets in a possible second breach of the Ministerial Code of Ethics.

When asked by The Shift, the Standards Commissioner confirmed that all members of Cabinet, including the prime minister, are required to list their spouse’s assets in their declarations.

“The text at the top of the form states that ministers (including the prime minister) should include immovable property, shareholdings, bank deposits, and other financial interests that are held by their spouses and covered by the community of acquests. This text is derived from the Manual of Cabinet Procedures, issued by the government,” the Commissioner’s spokesman said.

According to the code, ministers, parliamentary secretaries, Cabinet members and the prime minister are obliged to fill out a declaration of assets every year for themselves, their spouse and any minors under their care.

The only exception is married couples who have a pre-nuptial separation of assets agreement, which must be registered at the Public Registry.

Since taking office in 2020, Robert Abela has not declared any assets in his wife’s name and research conducted by The Shift at the Public Registry did not produce any separation of assets agreements filed by either Robert or Lydia Abela.

Asked repeatedly by The Shift to explain why in his declarations, he has left out any assets that his wife Lydia may have, Prime Minister Robert Abela did not answer.

This puts Abela in at least two possible breaches of the Ministerial Code of Ethics he is supposed to monitor and forms part of an ongoing probe started by the Standards Commissioner following a request by independent MEP candidate Arnold Cassola earlier this week.

The declaration’s template clearly stating that the PM was obliged to declare his wife’s assets, including bank deposits

The Shift has already reported how the prime minister has failed to explain a €180,000 discrepancy in his 2022 declaration of assets.

While in April 2022, Robert and Lydia Abela, together, signed a contract to acquire a parcel of land in Xewkija, to join it to their existing property, for €180,000, the prime minister did not list it in his 2022 declaration.

The Shift asked Abela  to explain his failure to declare his new property, but he did not answer.

Quizzed by the media on The Shift’s revelations, Abela said he did not need to declare the plot individually as it formed a part of his existing property.

This was even though the plot of land was purchased separately, from different owners, and through a new contract filed at the Public Registry.

The additional land purchased in 2022 is reflected in the expansion of a Planning Authority permit last year.

Meanwhile, the Standards Commissioner is probing a second, more serious breach.

While the contract Robert and Lydia Abela signed in April 2022 says that they paid €180,00 for their new plot, the prime minister’s declared bank deposits at the end of the same year, strangely increased instead of decreased.

He declared a sole income of €65,000- his official prime minister salary- and no income for his wife.

The €180,000 Euro paid in April 2022 is not reflected in the PM’s 2022 declaration when compared to 2021

The Shift asked Abela to explain which funds he used to pay the €180,000 for the new plot of land, but he did not reply.

However, when he was asked by other media, Abela said the payment was done through a bank account and was paid by cheque, but did not state which bank account he was referring to.

The Shift asked the prime minister which account he was referring to and whether this means he failed to declare it in his 2022 form, but he did not answer, instead stating that he did not make any of the payment in cash.

Therefore, it seems he made the payment from a bank account not listed in his assets declaration as that account shows an increase in deposits, not a decrease equal, or even near to the price of the plot of land.

                           

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7 Comments
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David
David
2 months ago

payment could have been made via a third-party-issued bank cheque.

simon oosterman
simon oosterman
2 months ago
Reply to  David

Then it would be an undeclared gift.

carlos
2 months ago

x’porkerija ta pm ghandna ma saqajna. isthi bob – tixxala min fuq il-haddiem onest.

M.Galea
M.Galea
2 months ago
Reply to  carlos

Tabilhaqq!! Bniedem inkallat! U l poplu jkompli isahhu! Tal blih!! Muscat fossa taddrenagg u ma tistax tghid li hemm xi haga aghar mid drenagg imma dan nghidlek li hu aghar!

Simon Camilleri
Simon Camilleri
2 months ago

Nobody else is reporting on this so I guess it’s not important. Seems nobody in Malta cares.

simon oosterman
simon oosterman
2 months ago

It is going to be difficult for the Standards Commissioner not to find anything wrong but I am sure he will succeed.

Mick
Mick
2 months ago

He would do extremely well in Putin’s Russia, fully qualified bare faced liar who cares little for his people.

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