Police find drugs worth €1.5million hidden in van/ Malta News Briefing – Tuesday 2 August 2022

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Updated 1730 – Afternoon Review

The Times of Malta leads with reports that construction entrepreneur Joseph Portelli been given the green light for two large swimming pools in a protected area in Qala. A number of organisations have expressed concern on development in the area.

Maltatoday reports that Bolt claims that it received no demands in relation to a single-day strike carried out by couriers last week, while insisting that no changes have been made to its basic courier earnings formula. 

TVM says that a 49-year old man from Rabat was sentenced to 21 months, suspended for three years, on harassment and threat charges.

Newsbook quotes active ageing minister Jo Etienne Abela who said today that the disappearance of an elderly resident over a month ago was an isolated incident and the St Vincent De Paul (SVDP) residence was and remains “safe and secure”.

Updated 1300 – Mid-Day Briefing

Police find drugs worth €1.5million hidden in van: After searching a van that had just arrived from Sicily, police seized drugs worth €1.5 million. The operation was carried out late on Sunday but was only revealed on Tuesday, after police issued a statement saying they broke up an international drug ring. A 28-year-old Bulgarian man has been detained. The drugs, 38 kilos of suspected cocaine, heroin, and cannabis, were discovered in a van’s fake compartment. Officers intercepted the van as soon as it landed in Malta after being tipped off that it had left Sicily. The drugs were discovered by sniffer dogs.

Nurses’ union criticises court’s conclusions on elderly man’s disappearance: The Maltese nursing union MUMN is on the offensive after an investigation into the disappearance of elderly man Carmelo Fino from a St Vincent de Paul ward. The inquiry blames the single nurse on duty that evening. Union boss Paul Pace said the union would fight any attempt to make the nurse on duty a scapegoat, and declared strike action to protect union members. Pace stated that nurses will not admit new patients to the SVDP or elderly homes until all wards can provide two nurses for all open wards during the night shift.

Covid-19 update: There were 94 new cases of Covid-19 as the number of active cases now stands at 1,504.

Morning briefing

HSBC Bank Malta reports pre-tax profit of €23.5m for first six month

HSBC Bank Malta has reported a pre-tax profit of €23.5m for the first half of this year, an increase of €6m from the same period in 2021. “Higher profits reflect a significant recovery on a non-performing loan partially offset by an increase in regulatory fees as a result of the change in legislation regulating the Depositor Compensation Scheme,” the bank said in a statement.  Non-funds income (fees and commissions and trading income) increased by €1.9m. Commissions were mainly a result of higher credit card usage, account fees and growth in transaction banking revenues within the Commercial Banking business, including good progress made on foreign exchange income resulting in higher trading income. 

Sliema is Malta’s most densely populated locality

Malta’s population has shot up to 519,562, up by 25% in just ten years, with Sliema now the most densely populated locality. A preliminary report on the 2021 population and housing census shows the population grew from 417,432 in 2011 to more than half a million in 2021. This was a result of a consistent population increase of 10,000 people per year since 2011, the highest growth ever recorded between censuses to date.  

Covid-19 update: There were 81 new cases of Covid-19 reported yesterday, with active cases now standing at 1,625.

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