The Malta Independent 4 December 2023, Monday
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February 2015: The Swiss Leaks scandal, another migrant tragedy, Café Premier bailout

Thursday, 31 December 2015, 11:45 Last update: about 9 years ago

The month of February was marked by the Swissleaks scandal, where The Malta Independent found that $687.4 million in Swiss bank accounts belonged to individuals with Maltese passports.

It transpired that former Enemalta chairman Tancred Tabone held €880,000 in a Swiss accounts. Former PN minister Ninu Zammit hid US$3.2 million in a Swiss HSBC bank account, which he maintained through annual visits to Switzerland while he was still a Cabinet member.

In addition, former PN Minister Michael Falzon also lied in his declaration of assets, and held undeclared funds in a Swiss account, amounting to €460,000. This has since been repatriated to Malta under a government amnesty. After repeatedly refusing to comment, Falzon eventually publically apologised for the undeclared, untaxed funds.

Developments occurred in the oil scandal, where it was found that pardoned oil trader George Farrugia’s brothers were fully aware of the commissions he was paying to Enemalta officials in return for wining oil contracts, particularly when the company paid for a car given as a bribe to MOBC chairman Frank Sammut.

The brothers of infamous oil trader George Farrugia are set to be arraigned in court by the end of this month over their possible involvement in the oil procurement scandal.

The Auditor General declared that there was insufficient justification for the €4.2m Café Premier ‘bailout.’ Towards the end of the months Prime Minister Joseph Muscat repeatedly denied personal involvement in the scandal.

Instability in Northern Africa raised concerns in Malta, as it was reported that the Armed Forces of Malta were on high alert, with Italian media reporting a possible missile strike on Malta. It was reported that Malta, Spain and Italy could be the target of missiles launched from North African countries by the Islamic State. Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela repeatedly denied the imminent threat even though it emerged that AFM shifts were altered to allow for increased manpower and resources coinciding with reports by Italian media.

It also emerged that Malta has no missile or air defence capability, and no early warning radar systems, sparking concerns.

With regard to instability in Libya, it was reported that Malta could be the link with Libya in the event of a UN mission. In the wake of tensions in Libya, reports emerged of the possibility that the Islamic State has been gaining a stronghold in the region. The Prime Minister said that Malta has a role to play in Libya, and could be a moderator. He also said he is willing to join the coalition against IS.

Up to 300 migrants were feared dead off the coast of Lampedusa, as the migrant crisis continued to worsen.

The AFM were looking to expand their Maritime Squadron’s assets, as it emerged that the government applied for funding to purchase new offshore vessels.

With regard to drug law enforcement, it emerged that the authorities had destroyed 23,000 ecstasy pills in 2014, with approximately 3,413.04 grams of Heroin, 1,523.17 grams of Cocaine, 8,264.83 grams of cannabis resin.



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