Letters: 15th June 2014

Resignation of Peter Grima

I write on behalf of Ing. Peter Grima and refer to the report in the MaltaToday (‘Enemalta Chief Officer resigns amid allegations of derailed NAO audit’, 8 June 2014) and the allegations made in the said article against my client.
My client Peter Grima unreservedly denies the allegation that he, at any time, misrepresented the facts to the NAO or in any way attempted to mislead them in their enquiry. All the replies given to the NAO in their 2012 questionnaire were based on information that was available to Enemalta and my client at the time.
My client further denies that he was interviewed by Enemalta in connection with the replies to the NAO investigation in 2012 or that he was ever made aware that he was under investigation in connection with the replies furnished to the NAO and has to date neither seen the internal Enemalta report, which is apparently the basis for this article, nor has he been requested to explain any of the replies given to the NAO questionnaire in July 2012.
Moreover his resignation from Enemalta took place over a month after he had accepted a secondment with the Ministry for Energy, where he has been working since the beginning of May, and the terms of his resignation were mutually agreed with Enemalta.
My client reiterates that the information provided to the NAO was based on the information available to Enemalta at the time (up to July 2012) and there was evidently no intention on his part to in any way or manner derail the NAO investigation. Furthermore, at no time was there any attempt made to downplay the possibility of meter tampering.
The smart meters and the automatic metering system used by Enemalta were procured from IBM and ENEL after a competitive call for tenders in 2009, and the smart meters were equipped with security features and anti-tampering devices which were believed to make them resilient to tampering.
These numerous features were described in detail to the NAO by my client and it was obviously underlined that these protection features were only operational once the meter has been installed at the consumer’s end and communicating with the central meter management system.
The anti-tampering philosophy was designed to rely both on hardware protection and data analytics, which would be carried out on the consumption data sent by the meter to the meter management and billing system. Unfortunately however, in July 2012 only a small percentage of the installed meters were communicating with the meter management and billing system and hence for the majority of the smart meters installed the main protection was based on hardware and meter sealing.
It is pertinent to note here that my client was only responsible for the Enemalta distribution section, including the meter section, until June 2012, after which, following an internal reorganisation, he no longer held the responsibility.
The NAO was also provided with all the details of the efforts undertaken by Enemalta, in conjunction with IBM and ENEL, to develop countermeasures against potential tampering. In fact by July 2012, important advances had been made but my client was no longer involved in their implementation following the reorganisation process previously referred to.
The recent cases of meter tampering discovered in 2013 rely on the use of inside knowledge by Enemalta employees in carrying out the work by opening the meters, physically tampering with the components, then closing them back up whilst hiding any traces. This is something that was not believed possible in 2012, at least not without breaking the case, as these were believed to be factory sealed.
In fact when the first tampered meters were recently sent to ENEL for investigations, it was reported that ENEL could not believe that the meters had been opened without leaving any visible traces.
It is a known fact that the fight against meter fraud is a continuous battle, and for every means of fraud detected and countered, new means for fraud will be developed, implying that continuous monitoring would be necessary.
This is one of the reasons why Enemalta embarked on the Smart Meter project as once the meters were installed and communicating, Enemalta would have had all the data necessary to be able to identify such cases of fraud.
It is however not true, as alleged, that there were no inspections carried out in 2012. There were inspections both on smart meter installations and on other older meter installations; both by inspection teams from the meter section and by an inspection team operating out of the customer care section.
Furthermore there were plans to set up a dedicated revenue protection team with staff trained in the use of the data analytics software, which was to be developed with IBM.
Thus, the conclusion reached by the NAO, that with an adequate and continuous ‘detect and inspect’ approach the phenomenon of meter fraud could be controlled, was a reasonable and valid conclusion.
After June 2012 however, my client reiterates that he no longer held the responsibility to ensure the implementation of such an approach following the internal reorganisation mentioned earlier.
Damien Degiorgio, Fenech Farrugia Fiott Legal

Complaints about persecution

Christians have lately been complaining a lot about being persecuted. Perhaps now, after persecuting others for centuries on end, they’re finally beginning to understand what it means to be persecuted.
They’re paying the price for the sins and crimes committed by their Christian forbears.
It’s “dangerous to be Christian,” moaned Neville Kyrke-Smith in the media on 8 May. May I remind him that, thanks to Christians like himself, it was once dangerous to be a pagan, a Jew, a ‘heretic’, a ‘witch’, or even to be someone who simply followed the dictates of his own ‘conscience’.
Christian prelates residing in Israel recently complained about graffiti daubed on their property by Jewish extremists.
These graffiti on walls are harmless pranks compared to the relentless and vicious persecution of Jews by Christians from the 4th century onwards.
Jews were the scapegoats of Christendom. Whenever something went wrong – from poisoned wells to the Black– Christians always blamed the Jews, and then proceeded to persecute them without mercy.
Before Christians complain about being persecuted, they should read about the injustices and the hardships that the Jews suffered after they were expelled from Catholic Spain and Portugal.
They should keep in mind the horrific massacres of Jews by fellow Christians in Germany during the First Crusade.
They should peruse the long, sad history of persecution by Christians of non-Christians and fellow Christians alike.

John Guillaumier, St Julian’s