Pilatus officials refuse to testify in money-laundering proceedings / Malta News Briefing – Monday 19 December 2022

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Updated 1730

Newsportal Afternoon review

Newsbook leads with reports that Roderick Cassar, the estranged husband of Bernice Cilia has been indicted over her murder after Magistrate Joseph Mifsud declared that there was enough prima facie evidence to do so.

TVM reports that Paul Spagnol, 38, who lives in San Gwann was found not guilty that 17 years ago he dragged a woman by the hair and threw her on to a desk in Gzira after she allegedly assaulted his sister with pepper spray and scissors.

The Times of Malta reveals that directors of a government entity “self-awarded” themselves extra perks without seeking the necessary authorisation at ministerial level, an audit has found.

Maltatoday reports that former Pilatus Bank risk manager Antoniella Gauci and operations supervisor Mehmet Tasli decided not to testify in proceedings on Monday. Money laundering proceedings against the bank and another former top official continued, as a decision by the Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg not to prosecute them are still pending.

Updated 1225 – Mid-Day Briefing

Restaurant business expected to reach pre-Covid levels: Business for restaurants is expected to reach pre-Covid levels or slightly improve because the Maltese will likely want to “make up for lost time,” the President of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, Tony Zahra, said. For hotels, he said that occupancy levels are expected to reach around 85% of what they were in 2018/19. Mr Zahra added that the increase in food prices and staff shortages are the major factors facing industry at the present time. (The Malta Independent)

No bids for fourth Gozo ferry: No company has expressed interest to lease or operate a fourth ferry between Ċirkewwa and Mġarr. The tender closed last week and not even the company currently operating the fourth ferry, MV Nikolaos, submitting a bid. According to The Times of Malta, the government’s options now are to reissue a tender or an expression of interest, stop the current fourth Gozo ferry or issue a fresh direct order to the Greek company.

220 people in distress in Malta’s South-West: NGO Alarm Phone has alerted authorities about the presence of two boats in distress to Malta’s southwest with approximately 220 people on board. According to a social media pot by the NGO, no aid has been forthcoming so far. The NGO, which operates a hotline for people making the dangerous crossing across the Mediterranean, first confirmed contact with a boat in distress on its way to Lampedusa with approximately 60 people on board, in a location south of the Italian island and east of Tunisia’s Kerkennah Islands.

Morning Briefing

Auditor report shows TM often bypass procurement rules

The Auditor General said that Transport Malta “often bypassed” rules meant to bolster checks and balances in the way public money is spent. In a detail report, the Auditor General found that among other shortcomings, the transport regulator took to bypassing procurement rules by failing to consult the Finance Ministry when issuing €17 million worth of direct contracts over a certain threshold. The report also revealed that clerical duties at Transport Malta have been subcontracted to two service providers. (Times of Malta)

PN leader calls on Govt to withdraw abortion bill

PN leader Bernard Grech said that government should withdraw its bill amending the criminal code to allow for abortions when the woman’s life and health is at stake. In an address on party tv, Grech said that Prime Minister Robert Abela is ignoring people’s concerns, including that of Labour heavywieght and President Emeritus Marie Louise Coleiro Preca. He also said that the Nationalist Party will be voting against the bill in its second reading in parliament on Monday. (Maltatoday)

Nation’s leaders call for unity and solidarity

Unity and solidarity among the Maltese and the quest for peace in the world were at the centre of the annual speeches by the country’s highest authorities during the ‘Milied Flimkien’ event in Tritons Square. President George Vella called on citizens to show respect to everyone, including refugees in Malta. He stated that we need to assist people in need, adding that not everyone may enjoy the festivities due to personal situations, financial needs, health or mourning. (TVM)

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