Sofia inquiry: Despite Malta Enterprise’s ‘incompetence’, chair won’t resign

Malta Enterprise Chairman William Wait will not resign from his post despite the conclusions of the Jean Paul Sofia public inquiry, which highlighted the government agencies many deficiencies.

Responding to The Shift’s questions, Wait said that since “he was not identified in the inquiry,” he “was not asked to relinquish his post.”

The public inquiry was published last Wednesday. It probed the death of Sofia in December 2022 when a would-be timber factory built on public land granted by Malta Enterprise and INDIS collapsed.

Widespread calls for resignations have been made since its publication, and those who have handed in their notice include Occupational Health and Safety chairman David Xeureb, Malta Enterprise board and Investment Committee members Victor Carachi and Paul Abela, and Malta Enterprise deputy chair Peter Borg.

Kevin Camilleri, the head of the Malta Enterprise’s micro-enterprise unit who assessed the application for the ill-fated project, was dismissed from his role.

Responding to The Shift’s questions on whether he will resign, Wait said he “Was not identified in the inquiry and consequently was not asked to relinquish my post as the non-executive chairman of Malta Enterprise.”

While the inquiry did not single out Wait, it slammed the agency he chairs for its lack of scrutiny before approving the project, stating Enterprise Malta had been “irregular, disrespectful to legal requirements, incompetent, and lacked any thoroughness.”

The inquiring board concluded that “Malta Enterprise should have never issued the letter of intent”, which led to the project’s approval.

“Anyone at Malta Enterprise who was involved directly or indirectly with the letter of intent approval should reconsider his position,” the inquiry noted.

As a result of what the board called “a comedy of errors” in regulation and enforcement, the ensuing project commenced in “a site that was not controlled by any regulatory authority.”

Following the inquiry’s findings, the Nationalist Party opposition has called for the resignation of Prime Minister Robert Abela, Minister Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, formerly responsible for planning, Minister Miriam Dalli, formerly accountable for Malta Enterprise, and Economy Minister Silvio Schembri, responsible for Malta Enterprise.

Wait’s former driver involved in the project

Upon the site’s collapse in December, The Shift’s investigations revealed how Matthew Schembri and Kurt Buhagiar, the business partners behind the collapsed factory construction site, had connections to pertinent government agencies.

Before the 2017 general election, Buhagiar, previously charged with human trafficking, was employed at the Water Services Corporation as a meter reader. Instead, he worked as a personal driver for William Wait, who was the WSC executive chairman at the time.

Buhagiar was then employed as Lands Authority CEO Robert Vella’s driver from 2021.

Commenting on the connections, the inquiring board said, “A simple Google search for the phrase ‘due diligence’ would show us how entities like Malta Enterprise should have done more to assure themselves of the abilities of their prospective clients,” such as Schembri and Buhagiar’s company which was handed the project.

Last year, The Shift reported how, while chairman of Malta Enterprise, the entity responsible for approving significant government subsidies to businesses, Wait also held key positions in some 19 other companies.

These included ones receiving funds or falling under Malta Enterprise’s remit, the same institution he heads.

                           

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Anne R. key
Anne R. key
1 month ago

Held positions in 19 other key companies…..! What are these people? Are they superhuman? Derived from some sort of alien wonder deities? No, they are NOT! – They are just the chosen pigs eating from their golden troughs, generously provided by their PL masters….!

Frank Galea
Frank Galea
1 month ago

Of course he did not resign! William Wait is living up to his surname! Waiting to be dismissed! Or is he?!!

Paul Henry Berman
Paul Henry Berman
1 month ago

Its disgusting that we keep giving these inadequate people large amounts of public funds, He should be sacked and never employed by any government entity again. This government rewards failure and corruption

Betta Ellul
Betta Ellul
1 month ago

They reward failure and corruption cos it’s their own Modus Operandi. If they call them out they may as well call themselves out. Pezza wahda.

Michael Borg
1 month ago

Amazing how competent people are!
WAIT a sec…………I mean, holding positions KEY POSITIONS in 19 companies is quite a handful and frankly I cannot see how 24 hours in a day can provide enough time to do all the work.
Perhaps we should militate for a longer day to accommodate these ‘Supermen’.

Last edited 1 month ago by Michael Borg
Mark Debono
Mark Debono
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Borg

19 other key positions but also finds time to scoff from the trough as well?

Toni Borg
Toni Borg
1 month ago

One interesting fact which everyone seems to overlook, is that there were at least five other injured persons in the same accident.

What happened to these?
Who paid their flights out of Malta with haste?
Who paid for their silence?
Was it the developers, Malta Enterprise or one of the Ministries involved??

M. Vella
M. Vella
1 month ago

Another example of a Chairman who hasn’t a clue of the values and obligations of public office. The point is not that ‘he wasn’t identified’ … although admittedly, this was the most puzzling part of the inquiry – how neither he, nor the-then CEO, responsible for ensuring proper process, came into question. A junior person was allowed to take the fall, without any question of who was responsible for his supervision. Sad.

viv
viv
1 month ago

Thank you for bringing this repugnant scumbag to the fore.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
1 month ago

Kollha imwaħħlin mas-siġġu tal-poter.

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