Medical visas scam: 'Clear links between bribes and Castille' - Busuttil

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil says Prime Minister Joseph Muscat knew of allegations surrounding purported illegalities in issuing of Maltese medical visas to Libyans • Labour Party lambast 'lying' Busuttil

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil has said that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had knowledge of the medical visa racket before it was flagged to the police, and that new details revealed “clear links” between bribes taken to issue medical visas to Libyans and the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).

Speaking during a brief interview on Radio 101 just hours after the OPM denied a report by the Malta Independent on Sunday that the Prime Minister knew of the medical visa racket before it was reported to the police, Busuttil claimed that the newspaper’s claims were correct as he had raised concerns about potential irregularities in the issuing of medical visas last year during a meeting of the Security Committee, only for his concerns to fall on deaf ears.

“The new details confirm that the allegations of corruption in the issuing of medical visas are very serious. However, we must stop beating around the bush; this case clearly shows a clear link between criminal behaviour and Castille. This means that there is an another link between criminality and power, as already seen in the Panama Papers scandal.”

“Criminals do not have a place in Castille, their place is in prison … Bribery is tantamount to corruption, and anyone who is corrupt deserves to be sent to prison,” Busuttil insisted.

Busuttil’s comments were made against the backdrop of an alleged racket involving medical visas. Neville Gafa, a health ministry employee and a political appointee, was accused by a Libyan Khaled Ben Nasan - a Libyan businessman turned whistleblower who had allegedly served as middleman between Gafa and Libyan patients – of running a medical visa racket charging Libyans thousands of euros to get into Malta.

On Sunday, Ben Kasan was revealed by newspaper llum to have applied for a Maltese residency permit twice - only for his applications to be turned down by the Security Services and Immigration Police due to 'unreliable information' and for failing security checks.

Police investigations have cleared Gafa of masterminding the racket, but PN deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami called on the police to re-open their investigations on the strength of recently linked Viber text messages between Gafa and Ben Nasan.

The Opposition leader also said that there was evidence of corruption after PN news organ il-mument reported that the payments made for the medical visas had not ended up in the government’s coffers, but in someone else’s pockets.

Lambasting the Office of the Prime Minister for “covering up corruption” and discrediting the whistleblower, Busuttil said the medical visa racket was given blessing by Joseph Muscat, former energy minister Konrad Mizzi, and OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri – the latter two having been revealed to have offshore links in Panama.

“It is always the same three people who are mentioned whenever a new scandal crops up,” Busuttil quipped.

Busuttil called on police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar and Attorney General Peter Grech to investigate the new claims, arguing that if they do not have the will or ability to take action, they should resign to safeguard Malta’s best interests.

“The scandal is even worse because vulnerable people are being exploited and those in genuine need of treatment are suffering and having money taken away from them … There is also a danger to Malta’s national security,” Busuttil insisted.

“The Nationalist Party has a huge responsibility to convince people that this is not right and that it must stop. Malta cannot be led by people who ignore corruption and criminality,” Busuttil said.

Meanwhile, in a statement the Labour Party said Busuttil was a “liar” as he had based his arguments on a lie which had already been refuted by the Office of the Prime Minister.

“The Opposition is exaggerating to continue defending Michael Fenech Adami … Busuttil is part of the political establishment and is insisting on being the prosecutor, the judge and the jury, he is a broken leader playing a broken record,” the Labour Party said.

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