PN questions Prime Minister’s silence on social benefit fraud scandal

The Nationalist Party asks whether the Prime Minister is covering up for someone in the wake of his abject silence following revelations of social benefit fraud involving a former Labour MP and others

Former Labour MP Silvio Grixti
Former Labour MP Silvio Grixti

Updated at 3:15pm with OPM reaction

The Nationalist Party has called out the Prime Minister’s silence on the social benefits scandal involving a former Labour MP and other government functionaries.

“48 hours after news emerged of this scandal, Robert Abela has appeared nowhere. 48 hours later, Robert Abela has taken no action,” the PN said in a statement on Tuesday.

It called for an investigation into the possible involvement of people within the Office of the Prime Minister in this case involving theft of funds.

The Sunday Times of Malta last Sunday revealed the details of the social benefit fraud perpetrated by former Labour MP Silvio Grixti, who resigned from parliament in December 2021 when the case first emerged.

Grixti used to provide people with a package of falsified medical certificates and documents, which they later used to claim severe disability benefits amounting to more than €400 per month. The fraudulent exercise benefitted around 800 people and police have been charging the beneficiaries with social benefit fraud.

However, despite Grixti having been interrogated by the police, no charges have yet been filed.

According to the reports, some of the beneficiaries had been referred to Grixti by customer care officials at Castille.

“It is of great concern that Robert Abela has not said a word in the aftermath of the revelations involving this racket that also implicates the OPM and minister Owen Bonnici,” the PN said.

“Who is Robert Abela trying to cover up for? Who is he protecting? Crisis after crisis… it is becoming clearer that Robert Abela has lost his leadership of government,” the PN added.

OPM reaction

Reacting to the statement, the Office of the Prime Minister refuted the PN’s statement, saying it categorically denies the claims.

The OPM said cases of similar abuse were reported to the police, and investigations had been launched immediately.

“It is imperative to note that a similar irregularity was reported to the Executive Police by the Permanent Secretary in charge of the People & Standards Division within the OPM, immediately when a suspicious case was brought to its attention. Further Police investigations ensued. It does not result that any employee at the customer care division ever suggested any 'claimant' or medical practitioner to commit any irregularity, nor that any such employee was aware of these alleged irregularities,” it said.