HSBC heist allegations, Standards reports ‘coordinated attack against me’, Abela says

Minister says allegations of having been involved in HSBC heist when he was employee there are coordinated attack against him

As the subject of public scrutiny over the months, Minister Carmelo Abela is claiming he is the victim of coordinated attack against him.

In his adjournment speech in Parliament, Abela said he had been targeted aver since he testified in the public inquiry on the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination in October last year.

“Lately, there seems to have been a coordinated attack against me. First with the HSBC bank heist, with rumours starting towards late October. And maybe it's no coincidence that it was at that point that I testified in the public inquiry. From then onwards it seems that there were certain manoeuvres and attacks carried out against me,” he said.

The rumour mill on Abela’s alleged involvement in the HSBC bank heist started when Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi claimed that a Labour politician was linked to the heist.

It was later confirmed that Vincent Muscat ‘il-Koħħu’, who has pleaded guilty to carrying out the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, told police that he can name this politician.

Abela categorically denied having any involvement in the heist, and has filed defamation lawsuit demanding that the Azzopardi answer for his claims linking him to the 2010 HSBC heist. “I hope we’ll be seeing each other in court soon over the libel case, to see what other lies he has been spreading,” Abela said in the House.

The minister spoke at length about a recent report by the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life, which found Abela guilty of breaching the Code of Ethics governing ministers and parliamentary members.

He accused the Commissioner, former MP George Hyzler, of actively trying to find him guilty. “Hyzler wanted to find me guilty a priori, and came up with arguments so as to come to a conclusion,” Abela said.

The report concerned a media advertisement showing a picture of himself and a brief summary of government’s work during the pandemic. It was compiled following a complaint by civil society group Repubblika last October, after a full-page advert in newspapers was paid for using public funds.  

In parliament, Abela said that the advert’s intention was not to personally promote himself, but rather to promote the work carried out by the ministry. However, the Commissioner thought otherwise, concluding in his report that the €7,000 advert “clearly intended to boost his image”.