‘Government bribed whistleblower in Gozo works-for-votes case’ – Busuttil

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil says state witness in case against husband of former Gozo minister was bribed with €500,000 in contracts • Busuttil says Chris Cardona embarassed EU and Malta

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil

A Gozitan contractor turned whistleblower to produce evidence in the alleged works-for-votes case against husband of former Gozo minister Giovanna Debono, Anthony Debono, was “bribed by the government”, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil claimed today.

Busuttil said it was “shocking” that after the whistleblower, Joseph Cauchi, turned state witness in the case against Anthony Debono, he won numerous contracts for works in government schools, including about “€500,000 worth of jobs” through the Foundation for Tomorrow Schools (FTS) – the foundation at the centre of investigation over allegations of impropriety involving its former procurement officer, Edward Caruana, the former canvasser and driver of education minister Evarist Bartolo.

“The government bribed this Gozitan contractor [Joseph Cauchi] to destroy a family, to destroy Giovanna Debono and her husband, and to harm the Nationalist Party.

“These are people without scruples, They bribed him and protected him from court action and rewarded him with a half a million in contracts … Under this government, everyone has a price, and the price of this Judas was €500,000 in contracts,” the Opposition leader said.

The Gozo works-for-votes allegations were first published in MaltaToday when a whistleblower said he had been left out of pocket when the Nationalist Party was not re-elected, and that works he carried out were left unpaid.

The allegations subsequently saw the arraignment of Anthony Debono, who is facing 13 charges, amongst them misappropriation of public funds, in his alleged role in devising a works-for-votes system to carry out private works for constituents while he ran the Construction Maintenance Unit inside the Gozo ministry. The case is still ongoing.

Addressing party faithful in Fgura this morning, Simon Busuttil said it was incredulous that after turning whistleblower, Cauchi received cheques from Edward Caruana – the former FTS procurement officer implicated in allegations of corruption in the issuing of direct orders for the renovation of government schools.

“If after making his supposed allegations against Anthony Debono, this contractor was awarded with half a million in contracts, how serious and truthful are his supposed allegations against Debono?” Busuttil said while attacking the veracity of Cauchi’s testimony.

“This contractor turned whistleblower had claimed that he met me over the case, and the Labour Party had repeated this time and time again, yet no one told us that the government awarded him with €500,000,” he said.

Insisting that the police force and its commissioner were a “tool at the control of the government”, Busuttil also claimed that de facto energy minister Konrad Mizzi and OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri were not investigated by the police “because Labour is in power.”

“Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri declared that they were going to deposit €1 million in their Panama accounts, yet the police did not investigate. The prime minister had declared that there was no basis for police investigations – a clear example of the political interference in the police’s investigations,” he said.

“They were not investigated simply because Labour is in power. I promise you that under a Nationalist administration, the police would investigate Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri, the Gaffarena scandal, Neville Gafa, and Edward Caruana,” he said.

Lambasting economy minister Chris Cardona, the minister involved in allegations of having visited a German brothel in Velbert while on official business, Busuttil said the minister had tarnished Malta’s reputation.

“Chris Cardona is not just an MP, he is a minister and the Labour Party’s deputy leader for party affairs... Someone needs to tell him that party affairs does not mean partying," he said.

"If Joseph Muscat does nothing, he will be showing that he has lost all authority and control over his government, and that the government has become a brothel,” Busuttil argued.

The PN leader, who started off his speech by telling party faithful “don’t worry the water is not cold”, said the Valletta Summit on Migration had been overshadowed by the brothel allegations surrounding Cardona.

“What was supposed to be an occasion which made Malta proud quickly became an embarassment for Malta and the EU. Instead of speaking on the summit, people were speaking on the brothel. This indicates something fundamentally wrong in the leadership of our country,” Busuttil said while lambasting the prime minister's silence.

"We will wait to see what the prime minister's standards are, if any," Busuttil continued.

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