Gonzi does not recall being informed of Frank Sammut investigation

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi denies knowing or being informed of Corruption Commission investigation into Frank Sammut in 2003.

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi touring Lufthansa Technik's hangars with Finance Minister Tonio Fenech and CEO Stephen Drewes.
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi touring Lufthansa Technik's hangars with Finance Minister Tonio Fenech and CEO Stephen Drewes.

Prime Minister Lawrence has denied knowing or being informed of an investigation by the Corruption Against Commission into Frank Sammut in 2003, who is currently at the heart of a commission scandal in his capacity as a former Enemalta consultant.

Sammut was revealed by MaltaToday on Sunday to have been the beneficiary of monies paid by Trafigura into a Swiss bank account, that were deposited at a Gibraltar-based company.

MaltaToday further revealed that in 2003, the Commission Against Corruption investigated Sammut, but absolved him of corruption. Despite this, the report was witheld and not published.

Prime Minister Gonzi was asked to confirm whether the commission for corruption had investigated Frank Sammut and whether Gonzi was aware that Sammut was involved in an investigation.

Gonzi confirmed that the Permanent Commission against Corruption had investigated corruption claims pertaining to Sammut approximately 10 years ago, as revealed by MaltaToday on Wednesday.

Gonzi however denied ever been involved in the investigation, or being aware of it.

"From memory, and I can only speak from memory as it seems that this issue goes back several years, I do not recall having been directly personally involved."

"However it is now resulting that the Commission Against Corruption has investigated the case. However whether it has investigated on the basis of a special request, or on the basis of a reference by an individual made to it, I cannot say. Only the commission can say, if it deems it fit."

Gonzi also said that only the Commission Against Corruption on such issues only the competent authority should decide what is best, especially in situations regarding to which authorities it should pass on the information for further investigation, such as the commissioner of police.

Gonzi also emphasized that we have a constitution and democratic institutions responsible for such investigations. "We should leave them free to operate and politicians should remain at arms length."

Asked if he ever heard is Sammut in a negative sense, Gonzi said he could conclusively say yes or no, pointing to the passage of time and stressing that he was basing himself "on memory."

He however said that regarding the allegations involving the MOBC "this is the first time I am hearing of them."

Gonzi also insisted that he first became aware of the allegations when MaltaToday published an article making public a series of commissions that were paid to Enemalta consultant Frank Sammut by Trafigura related to oil-purchasing.

Gonzi also said that he first became aware of Enemalta commissions scandal last Sunday when the story broke in MaltaToday's Sunday issue.

He also denied that any minister or parliamentary group member that they knew about this case before the news was published, he said: "No, nobody told me they knew about this before it came out on MaltaToday."

Asked if there are other issues that are yet to emerge Gonzi maintained that government has been transparent and has followed up hints that reports have been kept hidden or unpublished.

"I verified more than once, and more than once I was told that there are no more reports from Enemalta. There was one MRA report. Once I found out, I told them to publish it s that everything is made public, " Gonzi said.

"Now it results that Peter Grima, an executive director of Enemalta, replied that there is another report. This was published as well," he added.

He noted how this report is "ultimately" echoing government's position, in that the proposal to construct an LNG terminal in Malta is not the best choice.

Gonzi also fielded questions that asked why government opted to never introduce a whistleblowers' act, despite its repeated assurances that it would.

Gonzi said that it was not introduced because government wanted to "do things properly and see to it that the proposed law was subject to the necessary discussion, especially with regards to exactly what sort of whistleblowers law we wanted to introduce."

He said that issues such as complicity for those people involved in illicit acts who turn whistleblowers needed to be considered. "This is a serious law and such issues needed to be debated."

Gonzi however reiterated that the PN government remains committed to introducing the whistleblowers' law "despite how we didn't have the opportunity to pass it through parliament."

Gonzi also expressed doubts out Labour's proposal to remove prescription from crimes related to political corruption, insisting that it needed to be considered alongside other punishments.

He said that a change in the law whereby crimes such as murder are prescribed while political corruption is not "will offend or injure many people who have been affected by such crimes."

He however reaffirmed the PN's commitment to stamping out corruption and insisted that new laws needed to be discussed. He said that despite his doubts, he was not taking a stand against Labour's proposal.

Gonzi was speaking at the end of a tour of Lufthansa Technik's hangers, which were busy with staff carrying out repairs and refits on several aircraft in various stages of disassembly.

During a brief address, Gonzi, flanked by Finance Minister Tonio Fenech and Lufthansa Technik Malta CEP Stephen Drewes, said that the aviation industry remains a priority for government and that a future PN government would invest in this area.

He said that this sector was able to grow and flourish in Malta despite the challenges it has faced, thanks to assistance from government. He also welcomed how the aviation sector employs highly-skilled individuals from MCAST and university.

In his own address, Drewes said that the aviation sector looks forward to greater cooperation from the government, which it can do by attracting more investment in sectors that complement the aviation industry.

What a joke....does not recall. If he cannot recall, how can he lead a nation.
Il-Gonz is not renowned for his memory, MISKIN??!! He cannot even remember the number of jobs the PN officially created as per the NSO.
It has become customary for Lawrence Gonzi to suffer from sudden attacks of amnesia at the appropriate time. Perhaps Minister Joe Cassar should exercise his profession and examine him.