Montenegro scandal: Repubblika calls for resignations, Casa writes to Von der Leyen

Anti-corruption NGO Repubblika says prime minister must remove minister and police chief over delayed investigation into Enemalta wind farm scandal

Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri
Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri

The anti-corruption NGO Repubblika has accused the Maltese police of ignoring the orders of a magisterial inquiry to carry out intensive searches of Enemalta offices as part of the probe into alleged corruption in the Montenegro wind farm scandal.

The Times reported that the corruption probe into the Montenegro wind farm deal – news of which prompted the sacking of former energy minister Konrad Mizzi from the Labour Party –  has stalled, with sources pointing to police “delays” in executing plans for a physical search of Enemalta’s offices.

The search was deemed necessary to shed further light on the deal, in the hope of seizing documentary evidence necessary to build up a case. A law firm engaged by Enemalta to carry out an audit of the deal flagged how e-mail accounts of board members were not made available to it, since directors do not hold a corporate e-mail account.

“Despite the alleged ‘disgust’ expressed by Prime Minister Robert Abela at what happened on Joseph Muscat’s watch with Mizzi and Yorgen Fenech, the police have ignored magisterial directives to carry out searches at Enemalta and emails of directors implicated in this fraud,” Repubblika president Robert Aquilina said.

Aquilina said such a search should have been carried out fortwith without any preannouncing, in a bid to secure the evidence. “Instead police are waiting years to do what they have to do, until pressure mounts on them by alerting the thieves of some press report.”

Aquilina said Abela had to carry the can for keeping in place home affairs minister Byron Camilleri and Commissioner of Police Angelo Gafà. “Their mission has been solely to protect Joseph Muscat and his criminal associates, Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi and Yorgen Fenech.”

Repubblika accused the police force of obstruction and criminal complicity, persisting in hindering investigations such as those of Panama Papers, Pilatus Bank and the Vitals hospitals scandal.

“We cannot fight corruption today unless serious action is taking on the corruption of yesteryear: we cannot start healing as long as Camilleri and Gafà remain accomplices to this inaction.”

MEP David Casa wrote to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and to the Vice President in charge of the rule of law Vera Jourova, complaining about the stalled investigation.

“As more time passes, the Police Commissioner, responsible for prosecuting crime, instead continues to defend it. There is an agenda to protect Robert Abela’s predecessors which is trumping the integrity of the justice system. It is nothing short of state capture by criminal interests.”

Casa’s letter follows reports that the Police Financial Crimes Investigations Department contradicted a magisterial order to search Enemalta premises. “Despite evidence everywhere you look, of widespread corruption that robbed the Maltese blind, investigations appear to be scuppered,” Casa said in a letter to the Commission.

“A raid was ordered by the inquiring magistrate in early December... To date, the Police Financial Crimes Investigations Department has refused to conduct it.

“In doing so, it has branded itself as a persistent spoke in the wheels of justice, stultifying the work of the magisterial inquiry for the sole reason of benefiting those in power, those criminals who have pillaged the state coffers.”

Casa slammed the government for what he said were “fake on-paper reforms” – he saoid these were only a ploy to stave off scrutiny for the collapse in prosecuting high-level corruption committed by Labour government officials, while praising those who have spent years fighting in the absence of an effective police force.

Casa recalled his letter to Von der Leyen when she took office amidst the 2019 protests in the dying days of the Muscat administration. “Malta was on the precipice then, and its descent as concerns the rule of law has been further accelerated by his successor’s inability to prosecute corruption, or worse still, his propensity to afford impunity to Muscat and his accomplices,” the letter ends.