TM whistleblower offers to testify remotely after receiving chilling warning

Man claims unnamed high ranking state official warned him ‘to be careful’ because he was treading on too many toes and ‘they will do what they did to Daphne’ to him

Transport Malta head office  (James Bianchi/mediatoday)
Transport Malta head office (James Bianchi/mediatoday)

The man who blew the whistle on the Transport Malta driving corruption scandal has written to the magistrate compiling evidence to explain that he had fled the Maltese islands because he feared for his life.

In an application filed on Tuesday afternoon by lawyer Jason Azzopardi, Adel Ali Hassan, who provided interpreter services to Arabic, Frech, Italian and Hebrew speaking driving test candidates at Transport Malta, claims that an unnamed high ranking state official at the Presidential palace had warned his client to “be careful, because you’re treading on many toes and they will do what they did to Daphne to you.”

Hassan, who had lived in Malta since 2006, had become well acquainted with high-ranking officials in the Partit Laburista, earning their trust and establishing himself in the party’s structures. He would be asked to organise meetings between groups of people and the “highest officials” of the party, which at the time was still in Opposition, and would collect donations for it.

Hassan had “personally found out about a stratagem that is essentially a criminal conspiracy, led by an organisation that was effectively a criminal one, that would allow people who had failed their driving tests, to still be declared as having passed because they were recommended by high-ranking officials in government Ministries and several government Ministers.”

Transport Malta had first started using Hassan’s services in 2015. His lawyers said that around 15 days before the tests, he would receive an email from Clint Mansueto or another Transport Malta employee acting on Mansueto’s instructions. The email would list the numbers of candidates and the languages for which interpreters were required. Hassan’s job during the theory tests would be to read out the questions in the applicants’ specified language.

The man had released a statement to the police Financial Crime Investigation Department in November 2020, explaining how, in August that year, Mansueto had asked him to urgently report to his Floriana office.

In his statement, Hassan had also told the police how Philip Edrik Zammit would put a star next to the names of candidates who were supposed to pass the theory test irregularly. He was also instructed not to write their names on his invoices to Transport Malta

The month after his meeting with Mansueto, Hassan had found a TM clerk named Philip Zammit interpreting from Maltese to Arabic and vice versa despite not knowing the language and despite him also being employed by the authority.

When confronted by Hassan about this, Mansueto had replied that the candidates in question “were working in some Minister’s villa and were driving him mad with phone calls to let them pass.” Hassan was never engaged to provide interpreting services to Transport Malta after that, he said.

In addition to this, Hassan said, Mansueto would force him to take him out for dinner once a month, sometimes together with other examiners and would also make him pay for expensive drinks.

On several occasions, he said, Mansueto had insisted on being given a large percentage of the money Hassan earned. More than once, the former interpreter claimed, Mansueto had ordered him to buy expensive gifts, such as perfumes and jewellery for Mansueto’s wife and children.

Among the candidates who he was told “had to pass” and who had illegitimately passed their driving theory exams were “a number of Italians employed by a private taxi company and several Moroccans working for the Spanish company which runs the bus service,” reads the application.

But when, in February 2020, Hassan had decided to speak to the Minister at the time, Carmelo Abela, at the Auberge de Castille and had given him all of these details, the minister had laughed the whistle-blower out of the room, he said.

One Saturday morning in August the following year, Hassan said he had been summoned to the Mosta offices of former Parliamentary Secretary Alex Muscat. There, he was asked to assist Muscat campaign for the 2022 general election.

In October 2021, Identity Malta had revoked Hassan’s residence permit. The man said that Alex Muscat himself had later told him that he had personally ordered its revocation because he had refused to help Muscat’s election bid.

When Hassan explained that he felt it was unacceptable to be asked to help Muscat’s  electoral campaign when his complaints and reports of corruption had been ignored, “Alex Muscat’s reply was that he had the power to destroy him in Malta. In fact, that is what happened on October 7, 2021”

Hassan declared to the magistrate that he was prepared to testify via videoconferencing or any other means deemed opportune by the court that did not endanger his safety, “as his life and health were not guaranteed if he physically returns to Malta.”