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Fish landings graft probe, police suspect €800,000 in bribes

Prominent fish importers were also interrogated by the police.

24 February 2014, 12:00am
Police believe as much as €800,000 in illicit earnings were paid over the years for the validation of catch certificates for fishermen's landings.


Police investigators are probing an alleged bribery network over the validation of fish landings that has focused on top civil servants in the fisheries department, MaltaToday has learnt.

Three individuals were targeted in investigations, although one suspect was said to have passed away.

Police believe as much as €800,000 in illicit earnings were paid over the years for the validation of catch certificates for fishermen's landings.

Investigators have questioned fisheries protection officer Frans Caruana, whose role includes that of validating catch certificates, as head of the fishing and aquaculture regulation and control unit (FARCU).

The investigation was kicked into action over a report that Caruana had passed on incomplete information to a newly appointed principal fisheries protection officer. Caruana was responsible for endorsing catch certificates for release by customs' officials.

MaltaToday is not suggesting that Caruana is implicated in the investigations, but police have questioned Caruana in the investigation led by Superintendent Paul Vassallo and Inspector Jonathan Ferris from the Economic Crimes Unit.

Prominent fish importers were also interrogated by the police.

Environment minister Leo Brincat was first alerted to the bribery allegations by a top civil servant who had already assessed the evidence, and then instructed the department to refer the matter to the police.

Police are working on an assumption that as much as €800,000 could have been paid in bribes in what was an instutionalised racket. "There may be more than one person involved in the scam. We are still in the preliminary stages of the investigation."

Earlier in the week, Brincat - who is the minister responsible for fisheries - said that what perplexed him was "why and how such scandalous behaviour never surfaced before".
Polly Bonello
Patakka ohra from the 'creme de la creme': that is from those who know it all! Simon's Pn is taking our breath away...one new scandal every day! Se jidefendihom kollha?
Anthony Borg
The investigation was kicked into action over a report that Caruana had passed on incomplete information to a newly appointed principal fisheries protection officer. And that is why some people at the top need changing. That's when a lot of corruption comes to light. No wonder some commentators do not want change.
paul sciberras
But according to Simon's latest bright interpretations, the civil servant RESPONSIBLE should not even be investigated, BUT those who received the money who WHERE THEM who corrupted that civil servant.
kenneth azzopardi
It is amazing how we are suddenly discovering all this corruption it is either the police have been hibernating for the past 20 years or else some prominent persons are hiding this corruption to their glorification.
anton portelli
UNBELIEVABLE!!!corruption was the order of the day!
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