Shoot the messenger, not the message

The invoice which proved that Frank Sammut, a consultant to Enemalta, was being paid for the sale of a particular sale of fuel to Enemalta, was lifted not from George Farrugia’s computer but from a computer used by Frank Sammut.

Saviour Balzan
23 December 2013, 12:00am
I have very serious problems listening to Beppe Fenech Adami, and more so because he continues to insinuate that the documents that led to the MaltaToday oil scandal revelation originated from the Labour Party and Manuel Mallia.

Let us - for argument's sake - choose to believe that what Fenech Adami is saying is the truth and nothing but the truth.

Is the issue ultimately about the messenger, or the message?

In 17 years of Lou Bondì on state TV, Bondì - then a good friend of Beppe Fenech Adami and Austin Gatt - chose to dedicate countless programmes to his mission to neutralise stories by questioning the messenger rather than the message, and whenever possible, to allege collusion between MaltaToday and the Labour Party.

Bondì - the man who today earns a living from a political appointment dished out to him by the one and only Joseph Muscat - described MaltaToday as being the 'Malta Labour Party Today'.

I have no more time to waste to state where I stand.

The truth is that Beppe Fenech Adami is still defending Austin Gatt when his party leader Simon Busuttil has publicly distanced himself from the over-the-top former minister who has fallen from grace.

But let me be very specific about this allegation, which Fenech Adami repeats over and over again.

First of all, the representations of Manuel Mallia and David Farrugia Sacco were limited to the misappropriation of funds by George Farrugia and his brothers.

When Farrugia Sacco decided to institute a civil case against George Farrugia, the documents presented in court may have been interesting but they lacked the confirmation that a payment was effected to someone with an Enemalta connection.

The invoice which proved that Frank Sammut, a consultant to Enemalta, was being paid for the sale of a particular sale of fuel to Enemalta, was lifted not from George Farrugia's computer but from a computer used by Frank Sammut.

This is something I will always stand by.

Beppe Fenech Adami may not be that interested in reading on. But the truth is that the invoice published in MaltaToday was the only proof that corruption was happening.  It was not in anyone else's hands.

Before that it was only a case of George Farrugia - now known to be a Jesus freak - effectively screwing his brothers like all good Christians normally do after or before confession.

I will of course spare my resentment for the Christian hypocrisy of George Farrugia.

Beppe Fenech Adami belongs to that breed of politicians who believe that someone like me should be ashamed to walk down Valletta with my head held high.

Instead it should be Austin Gatt who should walk with his head held high as if the world belonged to him and the rest of us were a bunch of sub-humans with no grey matter.

From next year I will hobble into Valletta by a side street, avoid eye contact and don my dark sunglasses.

It is I, and only I, who should be ashamed of myself, not Austin or Tonio or Lawrence Gonzi.

I will now walk in shame for having revealed the oil scandal.

Beppe Fenech Adami loses no sleep praising former police commissioner John Rizzo for his sterling work. Well, he'd better hold his horses on this one.

Apart from the fact that I share the same enthusiasm that the Nationalists had for John Rizzo when he was a faithful police officer to disgraced and imprisoned police commissioner Lawrence Pullicino; what is really surprising is that John Rizzo, the man who is suddenly adulated by the whole Opposition, failed to properly investigate whether the suspects in this oil scandal had Swiss bank accounts or relevant foreign bank accounts which received deposits or transfers during the said period.
I could go on.

Needless to say, if you really want to laugh you should just skim through today's Malta Independent, home to apologists and bile producers: I am informed the paper carries an interview with Tony Debono.

No, before you even rush off to waste your money and buy the Independent  - you should really know that this Tony Debono was, in his heyday, the secretary of Censu Moran and at the time considered by the Nationalist party as a 'Laburist aħdar', the same kind of guy that would get a bollocking from guess who... a callous appellation, considering the fact that he was later to offer his expertise to Lawrence Gonzi and Simon Busuttil.

Times change and now he seems to have seen the light.

But the fact is that Tony Debono's involvement at this stage is rather irrelevant - for the simple reason that facts speak louder than words. The Malta Independent should really stop gate-keeping and serving as a poodle for the PN.

Today the real issue is not why a pardon was given to George Farrugia. We know now that Lawrence Gonzi lied when he said he did not know George Farrugia, and he did not say that he knew Farrugia's wife, who worked with him at Mizzi Organisation.

We know that Farrugia did not deserve a presidential pardon and that his portrayal of events is convoluted and full of inaccuracies.

The issue is that Farrugia's testimony, even if not completely true, confirms to what extent the political class and the managers at public ntities allowed themselves to mix with business interests.

What is needed now is a reappraisal of the way politicians and public officials acted.  The solutions are clear: they cannot meet up with people without noting down the nature of the meetings in a diary, they should not accept gifts and if they do they should not exceed a limit and should diarise everything. And more importantly, they should declare their conflicts of interest before accepting a post.

After last Monday's revelation, I would be interested in knowing whether the police commissioner called in William Spiteri Bailey, Alex Tranter and Austin Gatt for interrogation. I fear not. The only thing I know is that the proposal to have Alex

Tranter appointed to Rotary Malta as some kind of president was objected to by some members. Thank God for Rotary!


I have few kind words for Magistrate Carol Peralta.

In 1991 I was incarcerated together with Joe Azzopardi and Mark Borg for a day, for having refused to pay a Lm5 fine for having participated in a protest which blocked Richard Cachia Caruana from entering Ta' Cenc hotel with his car.

Some time before that, I had revealed Peralta's involvement in freemasonry at the Leinster lodge No 387 LC at Villa Blye in Paola. Unbelievably, the police had his name as a contact in case of burglary at the Villa Blye lodge. He never quite forgave me for that.

Peralta thinks that he is untouchable.

He is an uncouth man whom I always remember with a cigarette and a whisky glass in his hands in the Floriana bars. In that particular Floriana bar he frequented there was a whisky bottle with the words Peralta reserved for him on the liquor shelf.

Peralta has always been a boisterous quasi-comical figure. He is not the only one in the judiciary who does not lead by example. He is also unusually well off for a magistrate, owning properties in Malta and abroad.

If he is not impeached this time around, then the whole political class should really step back and let someone else bring Peralta down.

His press conference at his Mdina house reflected a particular and singular kind of arrogance.

I am told the Peralta incident led to an amazing cascade of telephone calls to the Office of the Prime Minister.

A very merry Christmas to all our readers who are not freemasons!

Saviour Balzan is the founder and co-owner of MaltaToday. He has reported on Maltese poli...