Former OLAF Director implies Govt sought to derail Dalli investigations / Malta News Briefing – Monday 20 June 2022

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Updated 1240 – Mid-Day Briefing

Former OLAF Director implies Govt sought to derail Dalli investigations: Giovanni Kessler, a former director-general of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and lead investigator in the Dalligate scandal has raised suspicions about political manoeuvring that may have blocked criminal investigations into the case locally. Speaking on a podcast by Jon Mallia, Kessler said that one of the first decisions then prime minister Joseph Muscat had taken was to remove police commissioner John Rizzo and replace him with Peter Paul Zammit, adding that Zammit had then dismissed the evidence and simply archived the investigation which lay dormant for years. Kessler was in Malta last month to testify against Dalli, who has been charged with trading in influence and attempted bribery over an alleged €60 million bribe requested by his former aide, Silvio Zammit, to help lift an EU-wide ban on snus tobacco back in 2012.

No impact expected on personal/home loans: According to a senior banker, local borrowers would not see any immediate adjustments to their house and personal loans after the European Central Bank revealed intentions to raise interest rates. Speaking to The Times of Malta, the banker suggested that when inflation and other pressures affect banks across Europe, interest rates might shift later in the year. The ECB has said it intends to raise interest rates next month for the first time in more than a decade.

Covid-19 Update: Health authorities reported 233 cases on Monday, while 72 people recovered. Active cases have increased to 2,881. On Twitter, Health Minister Chris Fearne said that the Omicron variant led to a rise in community Covid transmission. This underlines the importance of maintaining high levels of immunity, he added. Fearne revealed that the Health Department will be sending out new immunization dates to 65+ residents who missed their first appointment for the 2nd booster dose next week.

Morning Briefing

Catholic Association says new IVF laws go against embryo protection
The Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe has backed the Position Paper of the Church in Malta on the controversial IVF amendments, which it said will prevent human embryos from being born. Last week, Parliament approved amendments to the IVF law which allow pre-implantation genetic testing for monogenic disorders (PGT-M). This testing screens embryos prior to their transfer to the uterus to check for inheritable genetic conditions. In a statement, the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe said “this amendment would introduce a provision designed directly to prevent a human embryo from being born, because the embryo has a genetic disorder, making a mockery of what the principal Act originally intended to implement, i.e. embryo protection.” (Newsbook)

Woman in hospital after Balzan accident
A 31-year-old woman was hospitalised in the early hours of Sunday morning after a traffic accident in Balzan. According to police, the accident happened at 1:30am at Vjal De Paule. An Audi A1 vehicle, which was being driven by the 31-year-old victim, suffered a collision with two parked cars.
This caused her own car to flip unto its side. (Maltatoday)

PN wants media to breakeven in 14 months – Sec Gen

A plan is being worked on that aims to see the Nationalist Party’s media company, Media.Link, operationally break even in 14 months according to PN secretary general Michael Piccinino. Opposition Leader Bernard Grech had said, in April, that the Party was around €32m in debt. He had also said that every month the Party is losing thousands of euros in its media company, which makes it unsustainable. (The Malta Independent)

Covid-19 Update
The increase in Covid cases continued as Malta reported 315 new coronavirus cases on Sunday. With 62 recoveries the number of known active cases stands at 2,720.

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