Labour presses Busuttil to have OLAF investigate PN MEPs’ accounts

Ian Borg says this was the third time the Nationalist Party had been discovered to be adopting illegal means to finance its operations, following the cedoli loan scheme and the scandal involving the DB Group paying PN officials’ wages

Labour Party CEO Gino Cauchi and Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds Ian Borg said the PN had now been found to have adopted three illegal schemes to fund its operations
Labour Party CEO Gino Cauchi and Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds Ian Borg said the PN had now been found to have adopted three illegal schemes to fund its operations

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil should indicate immediately if he was willing to have OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud office, investigate whether Nationalist MEPs were illegally funneling money they received in allowances from the EU to the party, the Labour Party insisted.

The parliamentary secretary for EU funds, Ian Borg, in a press conference with the Labour Party’s CEO Gino Cauchi, said that five hours after prime minister Joseph Muscat challenged Busuttil to have OLAF investigate the claims, the opposition leader had yet to say if he would accept to have the EU’s investigator verify the PN MEPs’ accounts.

Borg said that that EU legislation made it abundantly clear that members of the European Parliament could not use money they received in allowances to help fund the party they belonged to, nor could they use the money for personal reasons.

The newspaper KullHadd claimed that David Casa, Therese Commodini Cachia and Roberta Metsola had set up offices in the PN’s headquarters in Pieta’ and were paying for the space out of allowances they receive from the EU for other purposes.

The amount of this allowance in 2017 is €4,342 per month.

The three MEPs later published audit statements, dated March 2017, certifying that “the public funds made available by the European Parliament to the MEP have been used in full compliance with the established rules of the European Parliament”.

The Nationalist Party said in a statement that all MEPs are bound by transparency commitments and all funds allocated to the MEPs are declared, audited and published. All PN MEPs have in fact had their accounts audited every year since being elected, the party said.

But Borg said this was the third time the Nationalist Party had been discovered to be adopting illegal means to finance its operations, following the cedoli loan scheme and the revelations that the DB Group had paid huge amounts of money to pay the wages of PN officials.

He noted that this week he had met Ingeborg Graessle, chairperson of the European Parliament’s Budgetary Control committee, and said that he had enjoyed working with her and her team in discussions the Court of Auditors on the 2015 discharge and implementing further controls.

“She too, like the PN MEPs, is a member of the European Popular Party (EPP) and I wonder what she would think of this scheme and what will happen in his case,” Borg said.

“The EU makes it clear the MEP’s allowance is for the setting up and running of an office in the constituency and cannot be channelled to the party,” he said.

“In the case of the Labour Party, everyone knows where our MEPs’ local offices are: Alfred Sant has an office in Fgura, Marlene Mizzi in Valletta and Miriam Dalli in Zebbug.”

Cauchi said that this was the third in a string of illegal schemes adopted by the PN to finance its operations.

“One of these MEPs clearly stated on her website that her office was at the Dar Centrali, while another listed an address that also turned out to be Media.Link’s address,” he said.

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