Opinion: Silencing whistleblowers

Roger Agius has gone public about the concerted efforts by Labour’s government to conceal the details of a massive disability benefits fraud.

Agius was Silvio Grixti’s right-hand man, Andy Ellul’s driver and a central figure in that fraud. He has said he has inside information on how that criminal racket functioned. Now, he’s accusing the social policy ministry of tampering with evidence.  Medical files, he claimed, have “mysteriously disappeared”.

Bang on cue, Prime Minister Robert Abela and Social Policy Minister Michael Falzon embarked on a vicious campaign of threats and intimidation.

With total disregard for their office, both resorted to classic authoritarian tactics.  There was no subtlety. Abela and Falzon brazenly deployed their assault in public view.

Abela was caught on camera stating:  “We should ensure that the police investigation is not neutralised by giving immunity to someone who, in my mind, evidently wants to avoid criminal procedures”.

Roger Agius sought whistleblower status to provide vital information to the police about the massive benefits fraud. The whistleblower office falls within the remit of the Office of the Prime Minister. It ignored Agius’ request.

What chance does Agius have of getting a fair consideration of his request when the prime minister openly maligns him, sending a clear message to the whistleblower office on how to treat Agius’ request?

Abela publicly called into question Agius’ motivation for offering information that may well incriminate Abela’s government.

Abela has every interest in discrediting Agius.  He is desperate to coerce Agius to stop squealing.

Abela’s public derogatory and incriminating comments about Agius are not only misguided, they’re dangerous.  Those comments also betray the mind frame of an autocrat who believes he can bully a citizen into submission by publicly denigrating him.

Agius was Silvio Grixti’s chief lieutenant.  He admits to being the middleman between Marc Calleja, a person of trust in the social policy ministry and Grixti, who now faces serious charges relating to the fraudulent scheme.

Agius was a trusted ally, so trusted that when Grixti quietly resigned, Andy Ellul, who took Grixti’s parliamentary seat, also took on Agius as his driver.

Agius was a lifelong Labour activist who worked tirelessly for the party. But now the prime minister is openly and publicly persecuting him, using his position of power to intimidate his former loyal devotee into silence.

And he’s not alone.  Minister Michael Falzon doubled down on Abela’s deplorable bullying by issuing a ministry statement replete with threats.  Falzon used his ministerial position to discredit Agius publicly.

He published personal information about Agius that should never have been made public, especially not by the minister, while the court case was ongoing.

Falzon called Agius a liar.  “Agius’ claims are an absolute lie,” the ministry said.

Falzon’s ministry claimed that “it is impossible to delete or remove any files without trace”. We all know that’s utter rubbish.  Even the famous Memorandum of Understanding with Vitals Global Healthcare disappeared without a trace, only to be found after the prime minister demanded it.

“Agius is finding it difficult to explain his involvement in the racket, and he has still not refunded the €43,398 that he had obtained illicitly between June 2016 and November 2023,” the ministry said.

Minister Falzon is denying Agius the presumption of innocence that Labour brandished in defence of disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat.

Falzon’s ministry declared in an official statement that Agius was guilty of taking illicit payments before the court’s judgement.  Falzon even revealed personal details – the precise amount of money and the dates during which Agius allegedly took those payments.

That’s a direct threat. The minister is shamelessly intimidating a citizen. The message is clear: ‘We know everything about you and will use it to damage you.’

Falzon went even further, saying: “The ministry urges the court to take note of how Agius is acting out of line”. Falzon is actively attempting to influence the court against Agius and publicly asking the court to consider evidence not submitted before it.

That statement is a warning to Agius and anybody considering exposing government irregularities.

Both Robert Abela and Michael Falzon are a disgrace to their office.  They are abusing their power to intimidate and harass a citizen who dared expose the rotten machinations at the highest levels of government.

Both Abela and Falzon are prejudicing Agius’ case.  Falzon published material that is prejudicial to the legal proceedings.  He’s openly declared Agius guilty, denying him the right to a fair hearing. He’s called him a liar, destroying his credibility before the court.

He’s denied Agius his right to the presumption of innocence and breached his right to privacy by publishing personal data that Falzon should not have access to. Clearly, the minister has unfettered access to Agius’ personal details and is using them for his party’s political objectives.

Falzon even encouraged the court to take a negative view of Agius.  That’s blatant interference in an ongoing court case. Abela and Falzon have been ruthless in pursuing their objective to silence a potential whistleblower.

                           

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8 Comments
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Mick
Mick
13 days ago

Bad news? Shoot the messenger, works a treat. This is Mafialand, dog eats dog it’s the only way they can survive, it’s all they know.

joe tedesco
joe tedesco
13 days ago

UTTER DESPERATION FOR MICHAEL FALZON
AND ROBERT ABELA. BOTH ARE HIGHLY
UNTRUSTWORTHY.

Jay Ho
Jay Ho
12 days ago

Now the piggies have learned how to squeal the noise will be deafening. Watching these corrupt lying thieves running in circles and trying to protect their loot would be funny – if the loot wasn’t ours to begin with

wenzu
wenzu
12 days ago

Malta? North Korea? The difference is reducing everyday. Dictator Abela, surrounding himself with clowns, has to have everything HIS way- no argument

carlos
carlos
11 days ago
Reply to  wenzu

apart from clowne they’re like him BLOODY CORRUPT AND A GREEDY PIG

simon oosterman
simon oosterman
12 days ago

The decision to give ‘whistleblower’ status should obviously not be in the hands of the person/people on whom the whistle is blown. For instance, if it is a magistrate or judge, the decision should not be in the hands of the judiciary and if it is a’friend’ or ‘friends’ the decision should not be in the hands of ‘friends’. Unless the decision is in in the hands of someone distanced from the alleged offence, the system just does not function. As has been proven over and over in Malta.

adriang
adriang
12 days ago

Perhaps the PN should make a deal with Agius that if the PN are elected, there will be a backdated pardon or some sort of agreement – IF the details he gives in court lead to the right convictions, that is, that proper justice is administered (not fabricated).

Last edited 12 days ago by adriang
Fred the Red
Fred the Red
11 days ago
Reply to  adriang

Shhhh! The PN has gone to sleep after June 8. Or maybe summer hols. Oh but wait, they woke up temporarily to approve the Chambray obscenity. They never learn do they…

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