Opinion: Spinning disaster into success

The government has finally published GRECO’s compliance report on Malta’s efforts in “preventing corruption and promoting integrity”.

GRECO adopted that report on 1 December 2023 and invited Malta’s Labour government to publish it “as soon as possible”.

The government kept it hidden for four months, and for good reason. That report exposed Labour’s concerted efforts to block GRECO’s recommendations.

GRECO’s report expressed exasperation at the government’s failure to cooperate. It expressed displeasure that “Malta implemented satisfactorily… four of the 23 recommendations” — just 17%.

Unsurprisingly, GRECO concluded that “Malta is not in sufficient compliance with the recommendations”.

It ‘asked’ Malta’s Head of delegation to submit a fresh report by 31 December “at the latest”.

It “invited” the Statutory Committee President to send Malta a letter “drawing attention to the non-compliance”.

Labour earned Malta another humiliating denunciation, a devastating condemnation of its obstinate refusal to act against corruption.

But you wouldn’t know from the Department of Information’s statement: “The (GRECO) report notes that Malta implemented or is implementing the majority of recommendations”.

That fountain of truth, ONE News, reported, “The GRECO report states that Malta implemented or is implementing 61% of recommendations”. Goebbels would be proud.

The report’s 22 pages are painful to read.  It’s a catalogue of stiff rebukes of a government that thought it could take GRECO for a ride.

Malta’s government believed it could fob off GRECO with its elaborate waffling as easily as it deceived its electorate.  But GRECO wasn’t fooled.

“GRECO received no new information… no new developments have been reported… GRECO regrets the absence of any progress… it is not clear whether work on this new system has even started… more than four years since the adoption of the evaluation report, no tangible progress has been made… no new information was provided by the authorities… GRECO regrets the lack of any tangible progress,” are among the damning conclusions in the report.

GRECO clearly stated it “observes that… no concrete steps have been taken”.  The Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body also noted that “no cases of investigations into corruption offences involving PTEFs (Cabinet members) leading to convictions have been reported”.

GRECO slammed Labour’s intransigence on Freedom of Information reforms. It downgraded its assessment from “partly implemented” to “not been implemented”.

Robert Abela’s government clearly has no intention of implementing any changes to the Freedom of Information Act.  It has consistently shown it will do everything possible to conceal information from the public.

Labour has too much to hide. It resisted GRECO’s pressure to make any changes.

Four years ago, GRECO recommended Labour limit the number of persons of trust “to an absolute minimum”. GRECO has now realised that “the appointments of persons of trust have not been limited to an absolute minimum, and the overall number of persons of trust that could be recruited has not decreased”.

GRECO faced other nasty surprises. Labour completely ignored its advice to implement an anti-corruption integrity strategy for Cabinet members.  None of Labour’s Cabinet members received training “on ethics and integrity”.  GRECO “calls upon the Maltese authorities to step up their efforts… with no further delay”.

Labour also completely ignored GRECO’s recommendation that Cabinet ministers disclose contacts with dodgy businessmen.

GRECO reserved its harshest condemnation for the government’s refusal to enforce detailed asset declarations by Cabinet ministers and for the inclusion of information about spouses. No brownie points for guessing who’s blocking those changes.

GRECO “is concerned over the fact that more than four years after the adoption of the evaluation report, no concrete steps have been taken to enhance the system of asset and interest declarations in respect of PTEFs (Cabinet ministers and persons of trust), ensure its accessibility to the public, provide for effective and proactive checks, and introduce dissuasive sanctions for violations”.

Robert Abela is never going to agree to that.  That would expose the unexplained massive wealth he and his wife have accumulated.

The situation, as GRECO discovered, is desperate.  GRECO had to point out to “criminal investigative bodies” that launching criminal investigations of Cabinet ministers “can be based on a reasonable suspicion and does not require that evidence is readily submitted to them”.

The Attorney General and Police Commissioner shouldn’t wait for all the evidence to be presented on a silver platter before investigating.  They had to be reminded that it was their job to get that evidence.

Maybe somebody should take GRECO aside and tell them that even when incontrovertible evidence was provided through the Pilatus magisterial inquiry, the police and AG colluded to exonerate the culprits with their nolle prosequi.

Labour has done everything to block GRECO’s efforts to bring corrupt politicians to justice. It rejected recommendations to allow law enforcement agencies to use special investigative techniques, such as wiretaps, and to make “the evidence lawfully obtained by such means admissible evidence in court”.

Labour failed to take steps to protect police officers who report corruption and other wrongdoing from retaliation.

Abela’s administration shamelessly objected to GRECO’s recommendation that ministers guilty of ethics breaches should face “dissuasive sanctions”.

Labour argued that ministers found guilty should not be punished because the “reputational damage” of the Commissioner’s ruling was an “adequate measure”.

GRECO was not taking Labour’s nonsense: “GRECO takes note of the authorities’ diverging view… however, this position is immaterial.  GRECO expects recommendations issued… to be acted upon… with no further delay”.

It’s a disgrace. Yet the government’s propaganda outlets presented the findings as an epic success. That’s Labour’s most dangerous tactic – its perversion of reality, its unceasing creation of an alternative universe.

                           

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3 Comments
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Paul Borg
Paul Borg
19 days ago

MALTA needs to be GREY LISTED AGAIN!

Fred the Red
Fred the Red
19 days ago
Reply to  Paul Borg

Malta needs an Opposition worthy of its name, one that meets corruption head on, one that shows Labour up for what it truly is. Instead we have a comatose PN which pussyfoots round Labour like a terrified mouse. The PN media is a joke replete as it is with painfully inadequate so called journalists who can’t even string two coherent sentences together, when they should be on a daily offensive on all fronts, displaying aggression and pinning Labour to the wall!

makjavel
makjavel
18 days ago
Reply to  Fred the Red

Corruption exposure does not work in Malta , when the majority is part of the corruption beneficiaries.
This will only turn round when the economy crashes.
The €1400 million that this year the government has to borrow and the €8000 million this government has borrowed since 2015 , was to keep this government in power by using this debt to keep his supporters fed with salaries and wages .

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