The Malta Independent 16 December 2019, Monday

Tampered smart meters: More suspected cases forwarded to the Police

Malta Independent Thursday, 11 September 2014, 09:50 Last update: about 6 years ago

The details of another group of consumers suspected to be using tampered smart meters will be handed over to the Police in the coming days, an Enemalta spokesperson told The Malta Independent.

 “Enemalta’s electricity theft investigations are ongoing. The company is committed to continue working to prevent and restrain electricity theft and other irregularities,” the spokesperson said.

Enemalta is informed that the Police have already filed charges related to bribery and electricity theft against a number of Enemalta customers.

When the smart meter tampering scandal was first uncovered, the government offered an amnesty to the 1,000 consumers suspected of having a meter that had been tampered with if they voluntarily came forward and admitted to the theft of electricity.

The deadline for the amnesty was back in April, and some 400 wayward consumers, out of an estimated 1,000, came forward. The government had warned that it would pursue consumers with criminal and civil action if they failed to come forward.

The government is clamping down on electricity theft with a set of new and more stringent fines that will see electricity thieves repaying not only the estimated amount of electricity stolen but now an additional 200 per cent fine on top.

The harsher fines come after the widespread smart meter racket, which the government claims cost the taxpayer up to €30 million in a single year after some 1,000 meters were found to have been tampered with.

A legal notice published last week has increased the penalty for tampering with Enemalta smart meters and other types of electricity theft, with first-time offenders facing a 200 per cent surcharge on the amount estimated to have been stolen. On top of that, electricity thieves will also have to repay the original amount estimated to have been stolen. The previous charge amounted to 10 per cent.

The government will be coming down even harder on repeat offenders, who will be slapped with a 400 per cent surcharge on the amount stolen. Consumers who still fail to learn their lesson will have the 200 per cent surcharge multiplied by the number of repeat offences.

This means that a consumer caught stealing electricity on three separate occasions will face a penalty fee of 600 per cent of the amount stolen to make good for any potential damages suffered by Enemalta.

Enemalta has the right to refuse to restore the electricity supply before all penalty fees have been paid.

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