Top official charged with car driving test corruption implicates minister

Three transport Malta officials, including a director and a former Labour Party local councillor, are charged with corruption • Unnamed minister exerted influence, accused told police

Transport Malta director for the Land Transport Directorate Clint Mansueto
Transport Malta director for the Land Transport Directorate Clint Mansueto

Updated at 7:13pm with Ian Borg comment

A government minister has been linked to a corruption case surrounding driving theory tests involving three Transport Malta officials. 

Transport Malta director for the Land Transport Directorate Clint Mansueto, former Żebbuġ Labour councillor Philip Edrick Zammit and Raul Antonio Pace pleaded not guilty to charges brought against them.

Testifying on Monday, the prosecuting inspector said the investigation started around two years ago, after police received a report from a translator that individuals who did not need an interpreter were being assigned one. 

Under police questioning, Mansueto told police that he was pressured by a minister, who was not named in court, into helping certain individuals pass their driving test. The individuals allegedly were working on the minister’s villa.

Further investigations saw the police seizing diaries and mobiles, which showed individuals were being assigned specific driving examiners in order to ensure they passed their test. 

The court heard how the translator was summoned to Mansueto’s Floriana office to tell him to indicate the correct answer to the selected individuals. 

Two of the candidates were a Pakistani and Albanian national, while a third individual was Maltese. Zammit allegedly was present until the tests were over.

The Pakistani allegedly made it through the test after the translator gave him help with the correct answers. The Albanian was likewise assisted.

According to the prosecuting inspector, the translator received cash payments directly from Mansueto rather than through official channels.

The police managed to trace a text message from the minister complaining of difficulties faced by a certain individual. His phone also revealed chats with people linked to a political party, with a list of individuals who needed to pass their driving test. 

The political party was not named in court. 

Chats between Zammit and Mansueto also showed Zammit asking if “there were any candidates needing a push”.

Investigators also said examiners would be spoken to by Zammit and Mansueto, who used to flag a list of candidates needing help.

In 2020, until this year's March election, Transport Malta was under the remit of Ian Borg as the minister responsible for transport and roads. 

In comments to MaltaToday, Borg has denied ever exerting pressure on officials to give preferential treatment to certain candidates. Borg added that he always forwarded complaints, requests for assistance or suggestions he received to the CEOs and Directors concerned for their consideration "without suggesting or pressing for any preferential treatment or wrongdoing".

Donald Gouder
Donald Gouder

Former TM superior flagged candidates’ names to Mansueto

It was also revealed in court that among the persons who flagged candidates’ names to Mansueto was his former superior at Transport Malta, Donald Gouder.

The inspector told the court that Gouder had helped Mansueto when the latter applied for the post. Mansueto was sent a screenshot of the score sheet, circling the questions the candidate was to focus on.

It was alleged that Gouder’s son was helped in his practical test by the examiner picked by Clint Mansueto.

Gouder is involved in Qrendi FC, which are coached by Jesmond Zammit, who was aide to Foreign Minister Ian Borg.

Labour Party councillor resigned from post a month ago

Philip Edrick Zammit
Philip Edrick Zammit

Zammit was a Labour Party councillor in Zebbug before resigning from his post around a month ago.

MaltaToday is informed that he currently sits as an independent councillor.

He had been elected on the Labour ticket in the 2019 local council election.

Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi and Jacob Magri are appearing for Mansueto, lawyers Joe Giglio and Roberta Bonello are representing Pace. Lawyer Herman Mula is appearing for Zammit.

Attorney General lawyers Abigail Caruana Vella and Gary Cauchi assisted Inspector Wayne Borg as prosecution.

The case is being heard by Magistrate Rachel Montebello.

The next sitting is to be held on 15 September.