The Malta Independent 19 June 2021, Saturday

‘I categorically deny that the intention behind the advert was personal gain’ - Carmelo Abela

Giuseppe Attard Tuesday, 11 May 2021, 20:05 Last update: about 2 months ago

Minister Carmelo Abela gave his side of the story regarding the recent verdict issued by Standards Commissioner George Hyzler, over an advertorial which was published by Abela's ministry

"I am not going to go into the details of whose fault it was and who made the final decision on the photo used" Abela said while defending his ministry's actions on the advert.

Recently, Abela was at the centre of a number of accusations. It all started, according to Abela "When I gave my testimony in the public inquiry into the horrendous murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia".

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Towards the end of October, certain accusations arose from PN MP Jason Azzopardi about Abela's alleged involvement in the HSBC heist in 2010.

Azzopardi had not originally mentioned Abela directly but the metaphorical finger was pointing in that direction. Abela said that he "hopes to see Jason Azzopardi soon in court" in order to clear his name from these accusations.

After the alleged heist accusations, Abela was also in a spot of controversy with regards to a series of adverts in print media.

These adverts cost the taxpayer a bit more than €7000 and Standards Commissioner George Hyzler deemed them unethical.

In his report, Hyzler made reference to 4 articles of ethical standards which Abela broke. In response to this, Abela brought out a series of images which depict adverts from Hyzler's time in politics with the Nationalist party.

"He should know better because he himself used adverts for his own political gain" Abela said as he showed images of the adverts. Abela hence used this as a precedent for his own case stating multiple times that he did not do anything wrong, as per Hyzler's own standards.

"The message in the adverts were simply to promote factual work carried out by my ministry. By stating that they did not provide any informational value, it clearly shows that the jobs of all the people we saved are not of value to Hyzler", Abela said.

Abela also rebutted speculation that the adverts were used as part of his reelection campaign. "At the date of the publication in October of 2020, there was no reference to an election happening anytime soon" therefore Abela stated that this argument is null.

There also was an argument that the adverts were used for Abela to keep his position during a reshuffle. "The reshuffle happened on the 21 November and I kept my position. I highly doubt that this is because the Prime Minister was mesmerised by my advert" Abela said to shoot down the claims.

Abela finished off his speech by stating that the work done by the office of the Standards in Public life is of utmost importance and reaffirmed his stance that "Politicians have to be kept more accountable for their actions [...] but I at least expect the accusations to be factual"

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