Malta, key EU officials alerted about a criminal social benefits racket

LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Key European officials in various EU institutions were alerted about an organized criminal racket implicating Maltese government officials and Labour Party activists in helping hundreds of people illegally get disability payments to which they were not entitled in the months and years preceding the 2022 general election. Nationalist MEP David Casa has presented the case to the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Vice-President Vera Jourovà, and to the Chair of the Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group within the European Parliament. Former Labour MP Silvio Grixti allegedly conspired with ministers, aides, and high-ranking government officials to help hundreds of people illegally get disability payments to which they were not entitled. Casa said “the facts of this case are simply revolting and Prime Minister Robert Abela has shown where his priorities lie in the fight against corruption”. Casa added that the criminal enterprise is not to be seen in isolation, but “joins a list of incessant, unresolved cases of wrongdoing, which the Maltese public has to endure on a daily basis.” He added, “the only way this could have been accomplished was through government services being completely hijacked and systemically compromised so as to allow the fraud to proceed without question.”
Slamming the concerted criminal effort to defraud the taxpayer and manipulate elections, which has cost the taxpayer millions of euro, Casa said that while hundreds of criminals were being quietly exposed, the big fish continued to elude prosecution two years after the racket was first detected. So far, Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela declared that he immediately took action after receiving reports of the allegations. Former Labour MP Grixti resigned from parliament in December 2021 after questioning by police, however he has not been charged yet.
A number of people involved have claimed to have been referred to Grixti, a family doctor, by government ministers and their aides, Labour MPs, and even customer care officials from the Office of the Prime Minister. However, a spokesperson for the Office of the Prime Minister has denied the latter claim. Former Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi claimed that the Office of the Prime Minister defrauded the country between €20 to €25 million in social benefits, by issuing false medical certificates to pass a medical board. Emails from the a “high-ranking” official at the Office of the Prime Minister allegedly confirming the involvement of the higher officials in power were also published. According to the social policy ministry led by Michael Falzon, some 141 people have been ordered to return a total of €2.1 million in severe disability assistance benefits they were not entitled to. However, the ministry has only recouped €330,000 to date.
This is expected to be even higher as officers continue to investigate all 761 applications that were awarded the benefit between 2019 and 2022, the ministry said. The majority have admitted to fraud charges and agreed to pay back the financial benefits that they have received and were given suspended sentences by the Court. However, independent candidate Arnold Cassola and rule of law NGO Repubblika have urged the police to prosecute the government officials and Labour Party activists who orchestrated and organised this criminal activity.

Foto: Agenzia Fotogramma


Source: medNews