The Malta Independent 24 September 2020, Thursday

Updated: Due diligence process shows double standards, PN will not take lessons from corrupt gov

Karl Azzopardi Monday, 14 September 2020, 17:13 Last update: about 9 days ago

The due diligence process for the PN leadership race candidates lawyer Bernard Grech and current Opposition leader Adrian Delia shows the party’s double standards, said lawyer Andy Ellul and PL Whip Glenn Beddingfield.

They were addressing a press conference on Monday where they discussed the PN’s Electoral Commission’s decision that both Grech and Delia are eligible to contest as leaders, despite the history of their finances.

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“The process of due diligence was superficial,” Ellul started off. “Due diligence is a common process in many aspects of life, but the process is much more rigorous for politically exposed persons.”

He made reference to recent reports that Grech systematically evaded tax over a period of 20 years and had at least arrears of €60,000 to pay to the Commissioner of Taxes. Apart from thisfor many years Grech collected VAT from people and kept it for his personal use, Ellul added.

With such reports, one starts to question how they were given the green light, Ellul suggested, saying that this is not a personal attack on Grech but a consideration of the possibility of having him as the new PN and Opposition leader, and potentially Prime Minister.

“Grech has not explained why he has not addressed these financial mishaps, and his double standards are starting to show.”

“It is also good to mention the good governance and rule of law that the PN preached is now being chucked in the gutter. Thus, we have to know what methods were used for the due diligence process and the resulting report,” he said, calling for the publication of the final report.

Beddingfield said that people were already questioning the integrity of both candidates due to their financial history and “in the absence of this report, our doubts have worsened.”

“How can you take the PN seriously when they said Delia is not fit to contest due to financial issues, yet, he still classified as a candidate for the election after the due diligence process. This makes all the criticism from those who no longer have confidence in him redundant.”

He added that Grech and Delia do not agree on anything either, so “how can Malta trust the future in their hands?”

This press conference follows a statement that the PL made on Sunday, saying that the public wants the due diligence report published.

Notably, both Grech and Delia have already said on social media that they also want the report to be published.

The PN will not be taking advice from a corrupt Labour Party – PN’s reaction

"Instead of focusing on internal processes of the PN, which was done in the most vigorous and transparent manner, should instead seek to stop the culture of impunity that is prevalent with the PL in government.

The PN was expecting Bedingfield and Ellul hold a press conference where they also call on the Attorney General to immediately publish the inquiry report into the bribery involving the sale of passports, or discuss how Enemalta had taken €5 million in excise tax which was supposed to be paid by Electrogas.

"This was done in violation of the original terms of the tender and it is calculated that over the whole period of the project Electrogas saved more than €40 million in tax; a burden that will be borne by the people," the PN said. "In the face of the recent cases of corruption, added to all other cases that characterise the leadership of the PL government so much so that they have become the order of the day, PL Leader and Prime Minister Robert Abela remains silent instead of telling us what he will do with his deputy and personal adviser Joseph Muscat and Minister Edward Scicluna, who instead guaranteeing the best use of people's taxes allowed them to pass corrupt contracts."

The PL can certainly never give some form of lessons on transparency and accountability when major cases of corruption and theft of people's money have taken place under the PL government, the statement siad. "People are still waiting for the truth and until this happens, the PN will continue to fight for justice."

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