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Removal of time-barring on political corruption, a Nationalist prerogative – Gonzi

Prime Minister says presidential pardon to oil trader, not Austin Gatt’s Swiss funds, is the story at stake in Enemalta scandal.

16 February 2013, 12:00am
Lawrence Gonzi said EU funds for educational purposes would have been jeopardised by Joseph Muscat's opposition to EU membership.
Lawrence Gonzi said EU funds for educational purposes would have been jeopardised by Joseph Muscat's opposition to EU membership.


Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi has pledged to remove the statute of limitations on political corruption, in a review of the Permanent Commission Against Corruption to strengthen the watchdog.



The proposal, identical to Labour's bid to remove time-barring for any corruption that takes place inside the political class, will be part of a review that will assign a full-time investigator to the PCAC, as well as have a president of the commission approved by a two-thirds majority of the House.

Replying to questions from Andrew Azzopardi on Radju Malta's Ghandi Xi Nghid, Gonzi paid tribute to his Cabinet's decision to grant oil trader George Farrugia a presidential pardon in a bid to uncover all evidence pointing to the payment of kickbacks by companies like Trafigura for the sale of oil to Enemalta.

Skirting for a moment the issue of his embattled minister Austin Gatt, who was responsible for Enemalta in 2004 when the alleged kickbacks were paid to Enemalta consultant and MOBC chief executive Frank Sammut, Gonzi was adamant to focus on his role in granting Farrugia a pardon:

"To me this is the crucial point of the story. The government was not scared of giving police the strongest tool possible to uncover any wrongdoing. We made the conditions public, and the pardon is conditional on Farrugia refunding all his illicit gains, with a €250,000 payment that must be made within five days."

Gonzi accused Labour of harbouring an agenda intended at alienating people from the fight against corruption by attacking Austin Gatt. "Labour is questioning the validity of this pardon... when we took action and brought about results in the fight against corruption. The worst disaster would be to have someone taken up to court who is then released because there was no evidence. But we managed to find a good case to take up to court," Gonzi said.

The prime minister also referred to questions raised about Gatt's own Swiss bank account, which he clarified are funds and stocks that had been inherited by Gatt from his father.

"It's not a bank account but stocks, or funds, which his father bequeathed to his mother and then was passed on to Gatt and his siblings."

Gonzi said that the fact that Gatt did not declare this USB stock after 2005 in his parliamentary returns, was not a breach of ethics.

"He did not declared it after 2005 due to a division of this inheritance in his family, and there's nothing strange at all about. Otherwise, why would he have declared it up until 2005? It would have been a breach had he not declared it intentionally. It was a mistake, he left it out of the returns. He gave his explanation, and he has supplied details of this fund to the Commissioner of Police to ensure that no money was deposited or extractd from this account."

Gonzi turned his attention onto Labour, saying Joseph Muscat was defending deputy leader for party affairs Toni Abela "when he intentionally sought out a Labourite police officer to quash a criminal report into an incident that took place at a Labour party club... this evokes bad memories of Labour's manipulation of the police force in the 1980s. Shivers should be going down this country's spine at hearing all this."

Gonzi also said that statements by former deputy leader Anglu Farrugia denouncing Labour's links with big business was a confirmation of why Labour had a well-funded electoral campaign.

"We now see GWU secretary-general Tony Zarb favouring companies competing in government tenders, and Toni Abela seeking out Labourite police officers... a case of using your influence to your own advantage."

Gonzi dubbed Muscat as a 'bad doctor', replying to questions about the PN's electioneering tactic to warn voters from toying with a change in government.

"Would you choose a doctor who gives you bad medicine once, twice, three times? Or would you rather have the doctor that always gives you good medicine? Muscat didn't want us to join the EU, robbing us of important EU funds that went for the educational advancement that I have been witnessing recently.

"He was against us joining the eurozone, and beckoned me to take the Cypriot direction... and look at where Cyprus is now, economically. And he was against our reforms in energy and public transport.

"So should one heed a doctor who gives our bad advice, and trust the country in his hands?"

The prime minister once again warned listeners of giving in to Muscat's claims that an LNG terminal and power station were feasible options for Malta's energy problems.

"This will be a bomb," Gonzi categorically stated. "We will have two gas tanks, the size of two Mosta domes, built next to a power station. It is incredibly irresponsible. We should not fool ourselves."
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Rudy Sollars
You had 8 years in which to do it. Stop insulting our intelligence.
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Josanne Cassar
Was this proposal included in the PN electoral manifesto for the upcoming elections? NO. Gonzi is not credible.
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OH YES? SINCE WHEN HAS GONZI CONVERTED TO A CHRISTIAN OUTLOOK AGAINST CORRUPTION? YET, THE TOOLS HE MENTIONED, THE COMMISSION AGAINST CORRUPTION, ARE A SURE WAY TO KEEP EVERYTHING HUSH HUSH AND UNDER COVER. NOT ONE SINGLE CASE IN ALL THESE YEARS THAT THIS COMMISSION HAS BEEN INSTITUTED HAS EVER BEEN DECLARED AS CORRUPTION BY THE COMMISSION AGAINST CORRUPTION. IT HAS ALWAYS ACTED TO COVER UP CORRUPTION WHICH IS NOW SO EVIDENT AND PLAIN TO SEE FOR ALL.
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Philip Borg
Mela skond Dr. Gonzi, jekk inehhi time-barring on political corruption, jien inkun nista' infittex lill-avukat ta' missieri, Karm Grima, nazzjonalist kbir talli orkestra l-frame-up tieghu u tefghu ghall-ghomru Monte Carmelis; Lil Dr.EFA talli ghamel l-Inkjesta Muscat Azzoppardi fuq dan il-frame-up u hbija biex jghattilu: u lil Dr. Alfred Sant talli seraq din l-Inkjesta minn tlitt postijiet differenti(mill-Qorti, Ministeru u mill-istrong room tal-parlament) u nerga lil Dr EFA talli halla lil Sant jisraqha u ma tkellimx biex jghalaq il-kotba u nibqghu bit-teba ahna il-familjari ta' Karm Grima.
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Let us suppose for a moment that the LP are elected and since AG has not contested he cannot be an MP. My questions are: Can AG be investigated in view of the fact that he will no longer be a politician? Will the removal of the time-barr apply to an ex-politician? Will the people ever see justice done?
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John Abela
It was a mistake, he left it out of the returns. Your 500 euro weekly increase was a mistake too you said. Mela ghandna Gvern tal mistakes. Do you mean Dr Gonzi,you can make such statements. Will I be excused if I make something similar please?
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Dr. Gonzi so who is copying whom now? And why was the removal of time-barring on corruption not included in the manifesto that now everyonecan consult at home? I wonder when Simon Busuttil, who has stated that all copycats should resign, will start clamouring for your resignation?
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Anna Callus
Can Gonzi kindly tell us whether Austin Gatt's account (including shares etc held) had been declared for death (succession) duty purposes, or whether it was permitted under exchange control legislation then in force? This quite apart from AG's income tax returns over the years.
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GODFREY FARRUGIA
COPYCATS! Why did the PN resist pressure to have the Whistleblower Act from having a retrospective effect, just as the PL wanted? GonziPN is now realising that Labour's promises of REALLY fighting corruption should it be elected are not empty pledges, but real promises. The GonziPN clique are worried sick of having a PL Government looking at their dirty past and exposing them for what they really are.
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Alfred Vanhear
Hon PM, your promise comes too late. Sorry but no thanks.
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Paul Dalli
.... imn'alla ma smajthiex l-intervista ta' gonzipn fuq dardir malta dal-ghodu ghax kieku kont nibqa' imdardar sal-ahhar tax-xahar ..... anki taqra biss x'qal, ikollok aptit taqla' l-istonku .... ahseb u ara li kieku smajtu veru x'kont naghmel ......
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Paul Dalli
.... imn'alla ma smajthiex l-intervista ta' gonzipn fuq dardir malta dal-ghodu ghax kieku kont nibqa' imdardar sal-ahhar tax-xahar ..... anki taqra biss x'qal, ikollok aptit taqla' l-istonku .... ahseb u ara li kieku smajtu veru x'kont naghmel ......
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Manuel Scicluna
Yawnnnn---- Gonzi STILL talking the same old stuff. NOTHING new. Wake me up, somebody, IF and when he has something new to talk about. zzzzzzzzz!
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NO the Prime Minister is wrong. Every citizen is bound to declare his/her accounts be they Swiss or local and declare any form of income or interest to the Depatment of Inland Reveue, failing which the individual is liable to the tax + interest + a fine for the number of years he/she DEFAULTED. Secondly, AG was boumd to declare his Swiss account or accounts, from 2005 ONWARDS in his assets declaration to Parliament. Don't play with words. What's binding for the citizens is equally binding for politicians.
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Yanika Chetcuti
When cornered, and forced to play ball, Gonzi will grudgingly accept. However, for making him accept sane principles, at the first opportunity he will turn back on you, and kick you in the teeth vindictively for forcing him to swallow his arrogant pride. A worse administrator one could not have. A real Catholic tal-muzew.
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Jessica Sammut
What's with the childish allegories? What we're considering here is a choice between the doctor who made mistakes two or three times when giving the patient bad medicine and the doctor who gave us medicine that tasted good, looked good and seemed to be curing us but that we have now discovered has caused us cancer! Which doctor would you choose, Dr. Gonzi?
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mario delicata
Gonzi the mouth.
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Karl Cucciardi
Bomba in nofs BILJUN EWRO commission. Dan l-ghajjein jaf li il gass likwidu ma jisplodix kif qallu l-istess espert li gab. Jaf ukoll li pipeline tal-gass hu perikoluz u jista jisplodi kif qalilna l-istess espert li gab GonziPN GonziPN irida ta' tabib tajjeb meta irid ikompli jitfa fl-arja il-particles tal-Heavy Fuel Oils li huma kawza tal-kancer. Safety data sheet tal-HFO turi dan:Chronic toxicity : Both animal and human data indicate that the product is carcinogenic. http://www.google.com.mt/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDsQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.eslfuels.com%2Fresources%2FMSDS_HFO_v1.pdf&ei=YWYfUcDsCojLtAaF3oG4Dg&usg=AFQjCNHm3ri6dV-0lENNTInv5HFeRGOe9A&bvm=bv.42553238,d.Yms&cad=rja Kif nistghu nemmnuk GonziPN. Mhux ta b'xejn ma qlibniex ghal-gass. Imma f'Marzu l-affari tinbidel u l-kontijiet jorhsu GonziPN, grazzi ghal PL.
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Michael Lanfranco
So it is the Pn who are copying Pl and not the other way round. Why has pn waitiednfor 25 years and Gonzi for 8 years to promis us the time barring legislation. Had it benn for Muscat to teach them democracy
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Michael Lanfranco
So its the Pn who are copying the Pl nd not the other way round. What has kept Pn from legislatingnon ti e barring for the last 25 years and for Gonzi for the last 8 years. Has they waitied for Muscat to teach them real democracy.
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Rebecca Muscat
Meta Dr Gonzi kien ma Dr Joseph Muscat fuq-Xarabank deher maħsud waħda sewwa kif Dr Joseph Muscat semma li jekk jingħata il-fiduċja kien ser ineħħi iz-zmien tal-preskrizzjoni min fuq il-politiċi . Tant hu hekk , li kif Peppi Azzopardi staqsa lill-Dr Gonzi jekk kienx jaqbel , Dr Gonzi kesaħ u ma kienx jaf x'ser jgħid għall-ewwel . Kullmin ħares lejn wiċċ Dr Gonzi , kulħadd intebaħ li kien mifxul waħda sewwa . Għallhekk , kif issa Dr Gonzi jippretendi li jittieħed bis-serjeta' dwar dak li qed jgħid ? Ma kellux zmien bizzejjed li kieku verament ried jagħmel xi ħaġa . Issa jrid jagħmilha għax xeħitielu ma saqajħ Dr Joseph Muscat ? Kemm taħseb li għad baqa' bċieċen , Sur Prim Ministru ?
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Saviour Cassar
bl istess ezempju li gab gonzipn rigward t tabib jien ma rridx ninqeda b tabib li jiehu zieda ta 600 euro bil mohbi ta kullhadd u inbghad ta vista izommli xi 20 euros izjed .Rigward il kont bankarju ta wistinu ,kien hemm membru parlamentari nazzjonalista li kellu jirrizzenja ghaliex ma iddakjarax kont bankarju li istess bhal ta wistinu.hawn nistaqsi x differenza hemm bejn wistinu u Borda.
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Saviour Cassar
bl istess ezempju li gab gonzipn rigward t tabib jien ma rridx ninqeda b tabib li jiehu zieda ta 600 euro bil mohbi ta kullhadd u inbghad ta vista izommli xi 20 euros izjed .Rigward il kont bankarju ta wistinu ,kien hemm membru parlamentari nazzjonalista li kellu jirrizzenja ghaliex ma iddakjarax kont bankarju li istess bhal ta wistinu.hawn nistaqsi x differenza hemm bejn wistinu u Borda.
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Letizia Scicluna
Isa emmnuh. Kellek hames snin u maghamiltiex issa trid tghamilha. Hallina Gonz min baqa jemmnek jekk mhux xi fanatiku min ta madwarek.
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Eu ,good doctor ? Then why has poverty risen in malta and every citizen of malta and gozo complain about expensive utility bill's and a explosion in daily cost of living.We need change for a better and more family like goverment which take family value actions and will distribute malta's cake evenly.
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Andrew Fiorentino
"This will be a bomb", yes for gonzipn on the 9th of march. And talking about doctors, you better look for a good one for yourself, because the way you make statements, you realy need attention.
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David B
Lol and does the man really think he has an ounce of credibility left? Talk about delusion and denial!! Should one heed a doctor who continuously prevaricates on administering the antidote for poison ?
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"Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi has pledged to remove the statute of limitations on political corruption". ABOUT TIME!!! After 25 years in power!!!
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Emmanuel Zammit Spiteri
Mr. PM, am I entitled to forget declaring my income to the Tax Department. If I forget to pay Euros 5 to the CVP in time for parking (created by A.G.) I am still charged a fine of another 5 euros. Please stop taking us for a ride.
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Janice Sant
Having a secret Swiss account is against the tax law for Mr Joe small fish citizen; we are defending the smelly big fish caught with its p.nts down are n.t we? Have we arrived to this: the Prime Minister defending what is unethical and agains the tax law? This case of a secret Swiss account is more scandalous given that now corruption at EneMalta oil procuremnet for the last 25 years, was not just a perception, but a sky high electrcity bills reality!
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Monique Vella
When Gonzi has nothing of substance to say he cries: Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! What he does not seem to realize is that the 'Wolf' that is sovereign will indeed eat him up come 9 March. Good riddance.
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