Updated | ‘The government cannot be trusted’ – Busuttil on visa scandal investigation

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil says PN will take matters into its own hands if government did not heed call for independent inquiry, Labour says government is cleaning previous government's mess 

PN leader Simon Busuttil has today reiterated his call for an independent inquiry into the granting of residency permits and visas, arguing that the government cannot be trusted to uncover the true extent of the scandal.

Busuttil said if the government failed to heed its call, the Opposition will take matters into its own hands. However, a cautious PN leader did not divulge on the nature of these measures, saying instead that it will take steps to ensure that all facts are disclosed, and that the extent of the scandal is truly uncovered.

Busuttil’s comments come in the wake of the police raiding the office at Identity Malta and arresting a number of people for interrogation. The “racket” – which came to light during the arraignment of several Libyan individuals falsifying documents to obtain residence permits in Malta, and which subsequently resulted in former Labour Party treasurer Joe Sammut being charged in court with a series of charges – is said to have been “ongoing” for a number of years.

Indeed, the government said that the racket has been going on for the past five years and is being investigated by the Security Service and the police’s Economic Crimes Unit.

Speaking during an interview on a NET Television telethon, Busuttil said the Opposition does not trust the government and that there should be an independent inquiry to uncover the truth and the “widespread corruption.” Moreover, he said that notwithstanding Sammut’s alleged involvement in the scandal, this was “just the tip of the iceberg.”

“There is something fishy and that is why we want an independent audit, we want to deny the government a chance to cover up its shortcomings, just like it had done in the case involving Manuel Mallia’s driver … The government cannot be trusted,” Busuttil said.

In a reaction, the Labour Party said the government managed to uncover a racket that had been going on under a PN government’s watch in 2013. “The Opposition leader knows that this is the first government who has seriously sought to investigate any allegations of illicit conduct … this government is cleaning out the mess left by the previous government.”

The Labour Party also said that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had already said that when the time is right, an independent inquiry will be launched. 

The PN leader also noted that in 2014, the government issued 14,000 residency permits, eclipsing the total number of asylum-seekers who arrived in Malta during the last ten years.

Busuttil also insisted that the Nationalist Party will not be discouraged by its challenge of recovering from its 2013 general election loss, underlining that the party can manage to win the next election.

The PN leader said that anyone who opted to vote for the Labour Party during the next election could “with hand on heart” declare that they have been taken for a ride.

“Those people who voted for Labour during the previous election know that the government has not implemented its electoral pledges. The PN is currently in process of change to be the party that the people want it to be, the party will be able to recover from its 2013 loss,” an optimistic Busuttil declared.

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