Police told they need PM’s go-ahead to unlock tax chief’s government phone

Independent candidate Arnold Cassola calls on standards czar to investigate allegations on a conversation between tax chief Marvin Gaerty and Robert Abela, in which the latter requested information on the opposition leader’s tax situation

Tax chief Marvin Gaerty
Tax chief Marvin Gaerty

Updated at 11:00 am with Arnold Cassola statement

Police are waiting for a decision from Prime Minister Robert Abela on whether to unlock tax chief Marvin Gaerty’s phone as part of investigations being carried out by them.

Described as “a pandora’s box of sensitive information”, the Times of Malta reported that the phone is a trove of information, which includes an exchange between Abela and Gaerty on opposition leader Bernard Grech’s tax situation.

Gaerty has declined access to his phone, citing security legislation in the Income Tax Act, which can only be waivered by the PM.  

Gaerty declined to comment, refusing to answer questions on whether the PM had asked him to forward information on the Opposition leader, and whether he had provided the information.

The tax chief is currently on police bail, having been questioned earlier last week by investigators from the police’s Financial Crime Investigation Unit. Questioning related to a conversation held between him and Yorgen Fenech in 2014.

Police are believed to have raided his home and car, as well as his Floriana office to collect evidence.

Arnold Cassola reacts

Independent candidate Arnold Cassola has called on commissioner for standards in public life, George Hyzler to investigate the report.

“Such behaviour is anathema in the democratic world,” Cassola said.

If the reports are verified as being true, he said Robert Abela must step down, or “get kicked out”.

“This country simply can't take any more of this indecent political behaviour,” he said.