Daniel Zammit celebrated cop brother’s birthday at Hugo Chetcuti’s €6 million mansion

REPORT BY JUDGE MICHAEL MALLIA • Unethical behaviour of Zammit family of police officers who had business interests with Gaffarena family during son-in-law's murder charges, and other business interests that compromised discharge of their duties

Birthday time! The indoor pool at Hugo Chetcuti's villa
Birthday time! The indoor pool at Hugo Chetcuti's villa
€6 million price tag on the house of Hugo Chetcuti
€6 million price tag on the house of Hugo Chetcuti

IN POINTS

• Zammits celebrated birthday of inspector Roderick Zammit at €6 million mansion owned Hugo Chetcuti
• Daniel Zammit stalled murder charge against Joe Gaffarena’s son-in-law Stephen Caruana by demanding swabs of Romina Gaffarena to match with tissue samples lifted by police at scene of the crime, lengthening proceedings by at least five years
• Scene-of-the-crime home on Drama Street, Qormi illegally replaced with apartment block without court’s permission
• Daniel Zammit’s land in Bahrija sold to him by Alfred Chircop, uncle to Mark Gaffarena’s wife. Originally land was sold to Chircop by Gaffarena firm Alfaclass
• Zammit family went in business with Gaffarenas in 2010
• Daniel and Roderick Zammit both transferred back from district police postings to Economic Crimes Unit on the same day, 10 June 2013

Police inspectors, in cahoots with the Gaffarena family, a stalled murder prosecution of Gaffarena’s son-in-law, and a birthday party at Villa Isis, the €6 million villa of Paceville businessman Hugo Chetcuti.

The findings in Judge Michael Mallia inquiry, ordered by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, has shed light on part of the rot inside the police corps, exposing the family of former acting police commissioner Ray Zammit and their business links with Gaffarena and Chetcuti scions, all in full breach of the police code of ethics and the public service management code.

Daniel Zammit, a shareholder in Diabolik Entertainment with Luke Chetcuti, son of Hugo, threw a birthday party for his brother Roderick at the sumptuous villa of Hugo Chetcuti, the owner of various Paceville establishments.

MORE Attorney General to decide whether Daniel Zammit is to face criminal steps

Judge Mallia described Chetcuti as a “dubious character whose copious penal record includes regular breaches of rules on his Paceville establishments”.

But while the Zammits claimed their friendship with Chetcuti was one of a simple “hello and goodbye”, Mallia revealed that Daniel Zammit’s birthday bash was celebrated at Chetcuti’s Villa Isis in Madliena.

“The fact that the two inspectors organised this birthday party, even though they paid nothing, still puts them in a pecuniary obligation in the sense of the law, making them obliged towards Chetcuti for offering them the venue,” Mallia said.

Murder charges

Even more worrying in Mallia’s findings was the reason for the stalling of a criminal prosecution of Stephen Caruana, the former husband of Romina Gaffarena.

Caruana murdered his wife’s then lover, Neville Baldacchino, in December 2008 after surprising the two at his own house on Drama Street, in Qormi. Caruana shot Baldacchino dead.

As it turns out, in June 2009 Daniel and Roderick Zammit purchased a Bahrija field from Alfred Chircop, for €11,650 – Chircop himself purchased the land from the Gaffarena family firm Alfaclass Developers: he happens to be an uncle of Mark Gaffarena’s wife.

Judge Mallia confirmed that it was not Daniel Zammit, as co-prosecutor, who asked that sensitive parts of the Caruana compilation of evidence – namely Romina Gaffarena’s testimony amongst others – be heard behind closed doors.

However, it was established that Zammit stalled the compilation of evidence with his unnecessary request to swab Romina Gaffarena so that comparisons be made with tissue samples from the scene of the crime. His request in January 2010 was opposed by the defence, and by May 2012 the defence demanded a constitutional verdict on the request; it was only in May 2013 that the court itself referred the matter to a constitutional court, and the matter remains pending to this day.

“Although academically interesting, [the request] practically serves for nothing but as an excuse so that nothing happens in the Magistrate’s Court, and the case just drags on,” Mallia said.

“It was already established through the testimony of Romina Caruana [Gaffarena] as to the intimate relations she had with Baldacchino, with whom she was having sexual relations at the time of the crime. So the specimens lifted from Caruana won’t prove anything already known… on this matter, the Attorney General’s advice is solicited.”

Mallia further said that the police investigation was compromised by Zammit’s relationship with the Gaffarena family: in 2010, his family set up St Gabriel Residential Homes together with father-in-law Gregory Buttigieg, and Joe Gaffarena, father of Romina.

Zammit has since separated from Buttigieg’s daughter, and since Buttigieg refused to relinquish his shareholding without compensation, the Gaffarenas and the Zammits set up Geras Healthcare in 2014, further cementing their business relationship.

Judge Mallia also added that in the murder charges against Caruana, it took the police “an exaggerated period of time” to present information on mobile phone data from the Gaffarenas; and that even more worrying is that the Drama Street scene-of-the-crime was dropped down and a block of apartments built instead.

“It is not known who gave this permit, if even requested, but certainly the court did not know of this and no decree was issued to drop down the premises.”

Mallia said that Joe Gaffarena was “a dubious character, with a copious penal record, principally where breach of construction rules are concerned.”

No permission requested

None of the Zammits requested permission to enter into private business relationships from the permanent secretary, opening them up to conflicts of interest. But since Ray Zammit was said to have not given any contribution to the Gaffarena business company, his behaviour was not viewed as serious enough.

Daniel Zammit was said to have breached police ethics and procedures in the Stephen Caruana murder case.

Zammits • biographies

L-R, clockwise: Daniel, Ray, and Roderick Zammit
L-R, clockwise: Daniel, Ray, and Roderick Zammit

Daniel Zammit: Graduated B.Com (Hons) and MA (Science, Security and Risk Management); engaged in police force in inspector’s rank on 28 April, 2004; posted to Sliema district in 2004; in 2006 posted to DIC; in 2011 he was posted to Valletta district; and then posted to Economic Crimes Unit in 10 June, 2013. He was boarded out of the corps on 21 April, 2015.

Roderick Zammit: Engaged in police force as probational constable on 28 February, 2003; promoted to third-class police constable in 2005; second-class constable in February 2007 and sergeant (under probation) in July 2007; then as second police inspector in July 2010; and inspector in September 2011, with two years’ probation, confirmed in September 2013.

He was posted in money laundering unit in 2004, and then transferred to the Zebbug district in October 2012; on 10 June, 2013, with his brother Roderick, he was posted to the Economic Crimes Unit. On 3 July, 2015, he was posted to the Hamrun district.

Ray Zammit: Made probationary police constable in 1976, promoted to third-class sergeant in 1980, probational police inspector in 1987, superintendent in 2000, assistant commissioner in 2009, deputy commissioner in January 2014; later made acting commissioner on 18 July 2014 before resigning in December 2014, and retiring on 12 May, 2015.

Zammit family business interests

  • St Gabriel Residential Homes, set up in June 2010 with shareholders Michael Gaffarena, Daniel Zammit, Roderick Zammit, Ray Zammit and Dr George Buttigieg. On 14 August, 2014, the Zammits transferred their shares to their mother and wife Jane Zammit.
  • Diabolic Entertainment, set up in December 2010 with shareholders Daniel Zammit, Stephen Bonnici and Luke Chetcuti.
  • Geras Care Limited, set up in October 2014 with Joseph Gaffarena and Jane Zammit as shareholders, and Michael Gaffarena as director. Daniel Zammit paid the company’s registration fee.
  • Tyche Consultancy, set up in May 2015 with shareholders Daniel and Roderick Zammit, and Francesco Airò.
  • Zurmed Trading, set up in May 2015 with shareholders Daniel Zammit, Bernice Farrguia, Deborah Farrugia and Anthony Mario Vella.

Judges’ interviews in inquiry

Apart from interviewing the Zammits, Judge Mallia also spoke to MFSA representative Claudette Fenech, police registrar Mario Spiteri, former police commissioners John Rizzo and Peter Paul Zammit, commissioner of police Michael Cassar, Daniel Zammit’s former father-in-law George Buttigieg [formerly a business partner], permanent secretary in the home affairs ministry Kevin Mahoney, Dr Martin Bajada and Labour MP and notary Charles Mangion.

Joe Gaffarena, with whom the Zammits are in business through Geras Healthcare Ltd, was not interviewed.

Laws regulating the inquiry

Article 9, Chapter 164: “Every police officer shall dedicate his whole time to the service of the Force and shall not carry on any other work unless prior permission in writing has been obtained from the Commissioner.”

Article 1(k), Second Schedule of subsidiary legislation 164 of the Malta Police Regulations: “Subversion [includes] that is to say if a member of the force… does not abstain from any political activity or canvassing or from any activity which is likely to interfere with the loyal and impartial discharge of his duties or which is likely to give rise to the impression among members of the public that it may so interfere;”

Article 8(d) and (e) if the Second Schedule: “Corrupt practice, that is to say, if a member of the Force (d) places himself under pecuniary obligation to any publican, beer-retailer, spirit-grocer, or any person who holds a licence granted by the Commissioner or concerning the granting or renewal of which the Police may have to report or give evidence; or (e ) improperly uses his character and position as a member of the Force for his private advantage.”

Article 7.1.6 of Chapter 7.1, Code of Ethics, Public Administration Act: “A conflict of interest may be defined as a situation in which public officers have private or personal interest sufficient to influence or appear to influence the objective exercise of their official duties.”

Article 7.1.6.2 “In many cases only the individual officers will be aware of the potential for conflict. Therefore, the onus is on the public officers to disclose to their permanent secretary if a potential or actual conflict of interest arises. Public officers are to disclose to the permanent secretary trough their director, any potential or actual conflict of interest in writing within a week on assuming office or upon change in duties or change in circumstances.”

Article 7.1.6.3 “Consonant with professional ethics, it is the practice to avoid having in the same unit, members of the same family or persons with business ties where this relationship can impinge on their official duties and may cause a potential conflict of interest.”

Article 7.4.2.1 “Public officers are required to obtain permission from their respective permanent secretary before undertaking any private work outside their official duties.”

Article 7.4.3.1 “Public officers should avoid any financial or other undertaking that could directly or indirectly compromise the performance of their duties. Serious pecuniary embarrassment, from whatever cause, is regarded as necessarily impairing the efficiency of public officers and rendering them liable to disciplinary proceedings. Pubic officers are expected to abstain from indulging in any activities with inherent risks of their eventually finding themselves in financial difficulties.”

Article 7.4.3.2 “Public officers are to notify their perm sec of all relevant personal, financial, business or other interesting particular; (a0 Any directorship, partnership, agency or any shareholding; (b) any interest in any activity or business in which or with which the organization is engaged; or (c) any interest in goods or services recommended or supplied to the organisation.”

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