OPM spokesperson: Reports of ‘flagged suspicious transactions’ in Abela's accounts are ‘maliciously false assertions’

Reacting to news reported by media on Sunday, an OPM spokesperson provided MaltaToday with a BOV document dated March 8, 2024, stating that the PM’s personal account is in good standing

Updated at 5:12pm with OPM spokesperson statement

Contrary to implications made by the media, Prime Minister Robert Abela has always operated said bank account for its intended purpose and nature and to the bank’s satisfaction, a spokesperson for the prime minister said on Sunday afternoon.

Reacting to news reported by media on Sunday, the spokesperson also provided MaltaToday with a BOV document dated March 8, 2024, stating that the PM’s personal account is in good standing.



On Sunday morning, Times of Malta claimed that a Bank of Valletta's internal investigation into the accounts of Prime Minister Robert and Lydia Abela has raised concerns about €1 million in potentially "suspicious" transactions.

The article said that the review, conducted shortly after Abela assumed office in January 2020, flagged three payments totalling €640,000 from the then Labour MP to his wife between 2017 and 2019.

The review highlighted the lack of separation between the Abelas' business and personal transactions during their time as practicing lawyers, including the channeling of certain expenses, such as their daughter's school fees, through an account primarily used for client funds, potentially leading to tax implications.

The failure to distinguish between business and personal transactions also made it challenging for banks to ascertain the exact reasons for specific payments. Lydia Abela's refusal to provide the bank with copies of her tax returns further fueled suspicions. The review noted that lawyers and self-employed individuals can reduce taxable income through expense claims, and Abela claimed expenses of €369,000 on revenues of €754,000 generated from his legal practice between 2017 and 2019.

The tax returns indicated a reduction in Abela's taxable income from €754,000 to €385,077 over the three years. The review also highlighted Abela's law firm's cost-saving measures, including operating from a prime Valletta location without legal title since 2017 due to an expired government lease.

BOV brought attention to October 2018, when Abela deposited two cheques worth €328,000, not in his name but payable to third parties. The bank subsequently banned the deposit of cheques made out to third parties in the following year as an anti-money laundering measure. Some payments in the review suggested that the Abelas continued to profit from their legal practice after Robert Abela assumed office.

Between October 2016 and January 2020, the Abelas issued €49,000 worth of cheques to lawyer Ian Borg, associated with the prime minister's law firm, Abela Advocates.

However, after Abela became prime minister, the funds' transfer reversed, with Borg issuing cheques to Lydia Abela. Borg was later added to the public payroll as an adviser to the prime minister shortly after Abela took office.

The spokesperson said the allegations raise ridiculous and maliciously false assertions, with the evident intended purpose for this report to be leaked and spinned. 

“Such as that Dr Abela, when still a practising lawyer, could be giving irregular cheque payments to Minister Ian Borg, when in actual fact those cheques referred to payments given to a lawyer bearing the same name and surname for legal services rendered, and who worked within the same legal office of Dr Abela,” the spokesperson added.