‘Joe Sammut did not act alone’ – Busuttil demands inquiry on granting of visas to Libyans

PN leader Simon Busuttil says government’s backtracking on university was thanks to Opposition’s pressure; accuses the government of using project to deviate attention

Simon Busuttil in Zonqor: The PN Leader says the government's backtracking was thanks to the PN's criticism, and says the Opposition will not back down on use of ODZ land.
Simon Busuttil in Zonqor: The PN Leader says the government's backtracking was thanks to the PN's criticism, and says the Opposition will not back down on use of ODZ land.

Former Labour Party treasurer Joe Sammut did not act alone, and there clearly was a network in the public service that facilitated the granting of visas and residence permits to Libyans, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said today.

Speaking on Radio 101, Busuttil took exception at the government’s “silence” on the arraignment of Joe Sammut, arguing that this was its latest scandal.

On Tuesday, former Labour Party treasurer was charged with fraud and money laundering charges after he allegedly registered false companies to aid Libyans fleeing war obtain residency in Malta.

“He opened companies which in reality were factual to aid Libyans aid a residence permit, but there is something much worse because he could not have acted alone, and there was clearly a network in the public service.”

“There is a web of corruption and a host of people involved, it was a clear case of institutionalised corruption as it was blessed by the authorities,” he said.

The Opposition leader demanded that a proper inquiry is launched to ascertain the true facts behind the granting of residence permits to Libyans. In addition, he called on the prime minister to convene a meeting of the Security Committee to explain how such visas were issued and to say whether they would be withdrawn.

 “This summer has been full of scandals. A scandal is revealed, and then the government tries to deviate the public’s attention and manipulate the media. These scandals are not born out of speculation but in reality, are factual,” he said while accusing the government of using the university in Bormla to deviate the public’s attention from Joe Sammut and the state guarantee to the power station.

“The government issued the €360 million state guarantee for the Delimara power station because Muscat tied his political future to it … The consortium could not borrow from the banks and therefore the only way the power station could be built was through the government guarantee,” he said.

Turning his attention on the American University of Malta, the Opposition leader insisted that the government’s decision not to destroy Zonqor was only thanks to the strong criticism voiced by environmentalists, civil society, and the Nationalist Party.

Nevertheless, Busuttil underlined that the PN is still concerned with the use of 18,000 square metres of ODZ land – even if this was much less than the 90,000 square metres that was originally envisaged.

Busuttil also accused the prime minister of using the American University to divert the people’s attention from the controversies surrounding the arraignment of former Labour Party treasurer Joe Sammut and the €360 million state guarantee of the building of the new Delimara power station.

“This government is an expert in manipulation, spin, and lies … Whenever a controversy arises, the government refuses to speak about it, and instead tries to deviate attention,” he said.

The PN leader also said that the government’s initial decision to build all of the university at Zonqor was a “rushed decision,” and that it was very slow to correct its mistake. “This is indicative of how the country was being run.”

Moreover, Busuttil reiterated his call for the government to publish its agreement with Sadeen Group, and asked why historic buildings in Cottonera were being handed to a private investor without a public call for tenders. “Had been something been arranged beforehand?”

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