John Dalli to be charged on bribery accusations / Malta News Briefing – Monday 6 September 2021

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Times of Malta says some 24 companies have renounced their licences to operate in Malta since the country was greylisted by the Financial Action Task Force, compounding uncertainty in the financial services industry, the Nationalist Party said on Monday.

MaltaToday reports that former European Commissioner John Dalli has vowed to fight against new criminal proceedings he’s set to face over the 2012 bribery allegations first reported by OLAF.

Newsbook reports that Malta has started administering a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to elderly residents at care homes on Monday..

TVM says that a 61-year-old British man was grievously injured yesterday after he was hit by a car in St Julian’s.

Updated 1130 – Newspaper Review

John Dalli to be charged on bribery accusations: Former PN Minister and Labour consultant John Dalli is expected to face criminal charges over an attempt by his aide to solicit a €60 million bribe to help overturn an EU-wide ban on snus, which is a form of smokeless tobacco. This illegality has allegedly happened when Dalli was the European commissioner for health leading reforms to the EU’s tobacco directive. He will be arraigned on Friday 17 September in front of Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo at 12pm, accused of the same charges that forced him to resign from his post in Brussels after a report from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).

Labour company in draft consultancy deal with Yorgen Fenech: The Times of Malta today revealed that a company linked to the Labour Party had been used to front a draft “consultancy” deal that would have seen it receive up to €200,000 from 17 Black owner Yorgen Fenech, in what could have been an attempt to disguise funding from the Tumas magnate. The paper says that this consultancy agreement was drawn up to pay for marketing, research and conference consultancy, digital graphics and audio-visual productions and advert placement that would be carried out by B.E.D Limited for Tumas Group. In a statement, the PN said that “just as hundreds of professionals and workers are paying the price of FATF greylisting, with hundreds of companies downsizing or firing workers, the Labour Party is revealed to be laundering money,” it said.

President calls for mutual respect despite our differences: President of Malta, George Vella launched another strong appeal in favour of more unity in the country and to call for mutual respect despite the differences that exist and will continue to exist between us. President Vella criticised the current trend of insulting each other online and making allegations in the hope that something sticks. “That is not politics. We are civilised enough, capable enough, we have enough material, to act like civilised people. We must not depart with the mentality that everyone is corrupt, that no one is capable, that everyone is bought, that everyone is a string puppet. So, is integrity a thing of the past? There is this air that is bad, a sick air, that we can no longer work in.”

Updated 0845 – Newspaper Review

The Times reveals that B.E.D. Limited, a company linked with the Labour Party, has invoiced Tumas Group at least twice in 2018. A draft three-year agreement for consultancy services was sent to businessman Yorgen Fenech in 2016 by then PL CEO Gino Cauchi.

The Independent reports on a planning application for the development of a villa on Dingli Cliffs, on the site of a disused farmhouse. The filed application indicates the demolition of the current structure and a series of small caves.

In-Nazzjon says that the PN is proposing a new 400-bed hospital in Gozo. The party said the facility is part of a range of investments in the island’s healthcare system that include a hospital helicopter service and MRI scanning.

L-Orizzont speaks with the Commissioner for Persons with Disability, Samantha Pace, about the New Hope Scheme offering guarantees for persons with health conditions seeking home loans. Pace welcomed the initiative and said she the Commission will insist on extending it.

The Independent says that the mayor of Qala, Paul Buttigieg, is seeking parliamentary intervention for Ħondoq ir-Rummien Bay, insisting that the location should be granted public domain status to protect it from development.

The Times says that around 20 people are expected to be charged with online hate speech later this month. Another 20 individuals were arraigned last week for publishing inflammatory comments on Facebook.

In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Bernard Grech that the policies of the Labour government led to Malta’s grey-listing by the FATF. He said the PN is opening up to more people who can bring about change and restore the country’s reputation.

L-Orizzont quotes Prime Minister Robert Abela announcing a PL conference later this month focusing on the road ahead for Malta. Abela said that a Labour government keeps its promises and is the best guarantee for the country to move forward.

Morning Briefing

Our word is our contract: PM Abela

The Prime Minister Robert Abela has said the Labour Party is capable of recognizing past mistakes, unlike the Nationalist Party. “Labour is the most trusted party, people believe our word. Our word is our contract,” he said. Interviewed on party radio station ONE Radio, Abela insisted Labour is the only party with credentials to move the country forward. The PM also hit out against Grech for defending the extension of development zones undertaken in 2006, insisting it comes as no surprise, given two of its authors were once again active within the PN. He also called out the PN for its “populist agenda”. “It’s easy to be populist and opportunist, but when you’re in the position you want to be in, being populist or opportunist doesn’t work when it comes to taking the right decisions for the country,” he added. Abela insisted the PN takes its position based on what is deemed controversial on social media.

PM is part of misinformation campaign – Bernard Grech
The misinformation campaign is not only happening through the use of fake websites, but through the state broadcaster as well, meaning that the Prime Minister is part of this issue, Opposition and PN leader Bernard Grech said on Sunday. In recent weeks, a misinformation campaign was underway in Malta, where a number of media outlets had their websites replicated in order to share false stories. However, Bernard Grech said that the issue does not only lie with these fake websites, but rather it is also embedded within the tax-payer funded PBS, where the Government is dictating what it publishes and what it does not, Grech said. “A Government which dictates what someone has to listen means that he is controlling the public broadcaster and is not allowing the truth to come out. Rather, he is twisting the truth,” he said.

Covid-19 Update

A 41-year-old man and a 69-year-old woman died overnight while positive for COVID. The deaths were announced by the health authorities on Sunday, whose data on Facebook shows that a total of 49 people tested positive for COVID over the past 24 hours. A further 43 recovered. This means that there are currently 723 active COVID cases in Malta. Of these, 31 are at Mater Dei Hospital, two of whom are receiving intensive care.

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