The Malta Independent 24 June 2017, Saturday

Police silent on Edward Caruana investigation; Minister Bartolo not yet questioned

Sunday, 19 March 2017, 10:00 Last update: about 4 months ago

The police are refusing to divulge any details on their investigations into former Education Ministry official Edward Caruana and questions sent by this newspaper to the corps appear to have remained ignored.

A spokesperson for Education Minister Evarist Bartolo has, meanwhile, confirmed with this newspaper that “until now”, the minister has not been questioned by the police over the alleged bribes requested by Mr Caruana, who was an official within the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools.

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The spokesperson says that, instead, the minister “has provided in writing all the information relative to the case to the authorities concerned and as he has publicly stated, he remains open to any assistance if requested”.

Meanwhile, sources with knowledge of the case speaking with this newspaper were not surprised that the police have remained mum on the investigations because, they say, the strategy is to simply do nothing and that Mr Caruana will not be arraigned at the end of the day.

The government, on its part, is said to be employing the strategy of simply letting the issue go, hoping that interest will die out and that the whole issue will just go away, as has been the strategy in so many other accusations of corruption.

The police are investigating claims of bribes, fraud and corruption in connection with FTS tenders and the inquiry has been extended to a development in Rabat that belongs to Mr Caruana.

The minister and the government have been under fire by the Opposition PN since corruption claims involving Mr Caruana, a former canvasser and person of trust of the minister, first came out.

The allegations first came to light when a Gozitan contractor claimed that Mr Caruana, then an official at the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools, had asked for a bribe. The allegations resurfaced again when FTS Chairman Philip Rizzo resigned, and claimed inaction by the minister on the allegations.

Mr Bartolo says he wanted to wait until he had more solid evidence against Mr Caruana to have a stronger case. But the Opposition has accused him of having procrastinated and that he attempted to cover up corruption that took place under his watch.

In his resignation letter, former FTS CEO Philip Rizzo accused Mr Bartolo of trying for months to dissuade him from reporting abuses of fraud and corruption involving his canvasser.

On his part, Mr Bartolo has insisted he acted immediately when he learned of the allegations. Later, he admitted that he knew of the allegations some few months earlier but that he had waited for “a smoking gun” before taking action.

When Mr Rizzo accused Mr Caruana of fraud and corruption, Mr Bartolo ordered Mr Caruana to leave the FTS, and he was reportedly posted at the Rural Affairs Department last September.

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