PN calls for responsibility to be shouldered over Algeria visa findings

The Nationalist Party insists that some of the findings by the National Audit Office warrant further investigations to establish who was responsible for what

Carm Mifsud Bonnici (left) and Beppe Fenech Adami have called for political responsibility to be shouldered over NAO findings in Algeria visa investigation
Carm Mifsud Bonnici (left) and Beppe Fenech Adami have called for political responsibility to be shouldered over NAO findings in Algeria visa investigation

Legal and political responsibility should be shouldered for the shortcomings identified in an audit of the Maltese consulate in Algiers, the Nationalist Party said.

In a statement, PN MPs Carm Mifsud Bonnici and Beppe Fenech Adami, said the findings of the National Audit Office showed that further investigations were required to determine the veracity of allegations that visas were being issued against bribes.

The NAO reported that it was not its remit to investigate allegations of bribery involving foreign nationals in another country but probed the manner by which the authorities reacted to the allegations.

Allegations emerged in 2015 that bribed were being solicited for the issuance of visas by the Maltese consulate in Algiers and many Algerians were flying to Malta legitimately for onward travel to other Schengen countries in the EU.

The visa processing in Algeria was contracted to a private company, which operated from the same building as the consulate. The NAO said none of the allegations implicated the consul but it found a lack of transparency in the visa process and no proper vetting of applicants.

However, the NAO commended the government’s decision to immediately refer the allegations received in 2014 from a visa agent to the police. The NAO said that information obtained from the police showed that investigations at the time found no criminal wrongdoing and the person making the allegations provided no proof.

But the PN has insisted that some form of responsibility has to be shouldered.

“In view of the Auditor General’s report… wherein the NAO could not determine the veracity of the allegations on the issuance of visas in Algeria and the vetting process of applicants was found wanting, the PN believes further democratic steps are required to establish the responsibilities involved. For all this, legal and political responsibility should be shouldered,” the spokespersons said.

The PN said the NAO report confirmed that the decision taken by the Office of the Prime Minister in 2013 to open a consulate in Algiers could not be explained, especially when the consul was a cousin of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

“The consulate was used to issue visas to Algerians who travelled to Malta and ended up in other European countries with no trace,” the PN insisted.

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