Police set to arraign account holders over electricity theft

Enemalta official says it’s up to police to consider whether account holder could be charged with complicity.

Police officers investigating theft of electricity from Enemalta plan to arraign account holders whose smart meters had been tampered with in order to register fewer units than actually consumed.

MaltaToday is informed that next week police officers plan to start talking to the account holders with the possibility of arraigning them over complicity.

Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi said Enemalta would seek to retrieve back what it lost from the thefts, based on a legal notice that spells out the procedure and formula. He said that criminal steps would be taken against the minds behind the theft.

An Enemalta official told MaltaToday that "police would have to consider whether the account holders could be charged under the offence of corrupting a public officer".

A clampdown on theft of electricity from the state energy corporation led to the discovery of 1,000 smart meters that had been tampered with. This, according to Enemalta officials, was just the beginning. A specialised unit set up at Enemalta, the Theft Control Unit, is currently studying analytics that could lead to more sources of theft.

95% of tests carried out on suspicious smart meters - mostly installed in private residences and SMEs such as grocers, butcher shops and other shops - proved that the smart meters had been tampered with.

It appears that the smart meters were opened and a chip inserted to bridge the resistors. The more resistors that are bridged, the less units are registered. The "expert" job caught smart meters provider Enel by surprise who at first could not find anything wrong with the equipment.

Three suspended Enemalta workers were arraigned in court today, with two of them pleading not guilty to the charges brought against. A third resigned from Enemalta and pleaded guilty to the charges. He was sent to two years in prison and placed under general perpetual interdiction.

It is believed that Enemalta employees involved in the racket were charging an average of €1,200 per smart meter installed in private residences and thousands more in commercial establishments.

Back in 2012, maltastar.com had reported that consumers had found various ways to tamper with the smart meters. It had reported that it was easier to tamper with the three-phase meter: thanks to a €500 magnet that could control the rate of consumption.

In the case of a single-phase meter - like the ones that were sent to Italy - a chip is inserted. Maltastar had reported that an account holder would report a faulty meter to "a certain person" and the smart meter replaced - the job would cost between €1,200 and €1,500.

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This is all fine and dandy. However seriously, I cannot understand how these 1,000 meters accounted for 10% of distributed energy. Somehow there must be some explanations, figures or whatever missing from the story.
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OK, the consumers involved are going to be brought to justice for stealing electricity and possibly (I have not doubts that is the case) for corrupting a public officer. - So Enemalta can somehow establish how much electricity was stolen and claim the amount (possibly plus interests & fines) from the consumers. - But can someone tell me the officers who received between them over one million Euros, if they are going to pay these monies to the government. If they keep the money, it is a message that crime pays.
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Probably that is why when we asked when electricity and water readings were going to start being taken remotely we were told that there was a considerable quantity of faulty meters!
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Mela skond dar-rapport kollox baqa' ghaddej bil-barka ta' Austin Gatt u Laurence Gonzi. L-aqwa li nhar San Pawl telghu jitqarbnu. Ma nafx capcpux ukoll ghal panegirku. Il-poplu jistenna gustizzja u flusu lura
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Heq leee... ghoqodu ahsbuha police