Updated – Malta News Briefing – Wednesday 6th September 2023

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Updated 1240

No sitting MPs involved in benefits scandal – PM

Prime Minister Robert Abela stated on Tuesday that no currently serving Member of Parliament is linked to the scandal in which many individuals fraudulently obtained disability benefits for which they were not eligible “I firmly believe that no MP has ever encouraged anyone to engage in any improper activities”, the PM repeated. He further noted that this information is not new, as the matter was initially flagged by Castille. Abela explained that Castille was the first to bring the case to the police’s attention, following the permanent secretary’s observation of certain irregularities. (Maltatoday)

€2.1m in fraudulent benefits ordered to be refunded

A total of €2.1 million in severe disability assistance benefits, which they were not eligible for, has been requested to be returned by 141 individuals. This situation is part of an ongoing investigation into a major scandal associated with a former Labour MP. According to information from the Ministry for Social Policy, this amount is expected to increase further as law enforcement authorities continue to scrutinize all 761 applications that were approved for this benefit between 2019 and 2022. The police are currently examining the extent of fraudulent claims in this case. It appears that Dr. Silvio Grixti, a family doctor, supplied false medical certificates to enable individuals to receive monthly benefits of approximately €450, benefits to which they were not legitimately entitled. (Times of Malta)

Two assailants give different version of events in jogger attack

An Albanian man currently serving a prison sentence after confessing to assaulting a jogger in Sliema has provided testimony indicating that it was the victim’s son-in-law who had orchestrated the attack. Xhovano Ndoci, aged 23, gave this testimony during the compilation of evidence for Matthew Schembri, aged 37, who is facing charges related to allegedly orchestrating an assault on his father-in-law Ndoci and another Albanian, Agostin Marku, aged 23, had previously pleaded guilty to the assault and were sentenced to 20 and 22 months in prison, respectively. While testifying before Magistrate Victor Axiak, Ndoci stated that he had been employed by Schembri and that Schembri had dispatched them to carry out the attack on the victim. Ndoci also mentioned that they had been compensated by Schembri for their actions, although he couldn’t recall the exact amount. However, in the same session, Marku stated that he had attacked the victim voluntarily, and it was not at Schembri’s behest. (TVM)

Morning Briefing

PN calls out PM silence on social benefits abuse

The PN has called out the Prime Minister’s silence on the social benefits scandal involving a former Labour MP and other government functionaries. “48 hours after news emerged of this scandal, Robert Abela has appeared nowhere. 48 hours later, Robert Abela has taken no action,” the PN said in a statement on Tuesday. It called for an investigation into the possible involvement of people within the Office of the Prime Minister in this case involving theft of funds. In a reaction, the Office of the Prime Minister categorically denied the claims. The OPM said cases of similar abuse were reported to the police, and investigations had been launched immediately. (Maltatoday)

Man dies in Zurrieq pool

A 70-year-old man died on Monday after finding himself in difficulty while swimming in a swimming pool in a private residence in Żurrieq. In a statement the police said that the incident happened yesterday, at around 7pm with the police informed that a man, an British national, had been found unconscious at a residence in Triq il-Kbira, Żurrieq. Meanwhile, a swimmer was rescued by the Armed Forces on Tuesday after he experienced difficulty at sea at Tigne Point in Sliema. (TVM)

New scheme for voluntary organisations launched

The Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector (MCVS) has launched the Voluntary Organisations Projects Scheme 2024, better known as VOPS. An allocation of €800,000 has been made available that will be divided among various volunteer organizations for initiatives such as community projects, infrastructure projects, or research. Under this scheme, over the past seven years, approximately €6.5 million has been allocated. Eligible projects can cover all sectors of the volunteer sector, such as sustainable environment, arts, music, sports, education, culture, civil rights, and youth. Additionally, this year, a portion of the funds will be dedicated to strengthening inclusion related to health and disability. Emphasis will be placed on projects and initiatives that promote and contribute to creating a more inclusive community. (The Malta Independent)

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