The Malta Independent 22 June 2021, Tuesday

TMID Editorial: Carmelo Abela - PM repeating Muscat’s mistakes

Friday, 4 June 2021, 08:37 Last update: about 18 days ago

Embattled OPM Minister Carmelo Abela insists that the claims being levelled against him by different individuals, linking him to the failed 2010 HSBC heist, are nothing but “orchestrated lies.” He uses this argument to justify his refusal to resign, or at least step down until his name is cleared.

The truth is that his position, whether the claims are true or not, has become completely untenable.


Rarely has there been a sitting Cabinet minister facing such serious accusations. It has been claimed that Abela, who was back then a manager at the bank, was somehow in cahoots with the would-be robbers, and aided them get access into the bank. To make matters worse, we are speaking here about some of the most notorious criminals Malta has to offer – the same people who are being accused of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Initially, the Degiorgio brothers and Vince Muscat ‘il-Kohhu’ did not name Abela directly – they had spoken about a former and a sitting minister who were involved in the failed heist.

It was already implied back then that one of the people they were referring to was Abela.

Now, Abela has been named directly in connection with the case. Just this week, the Degiorgios wrote to the EU’s Justice Commissioner, implicating both Abela and former economy minister Chris Cardona in serious crimes.

Worse still, when questioned about this latest development in Parliament, Abela refused to say whether he would be suing the Degiorgios for libel. ‘If you are innocent, and these are nothing but lies, then why not sue the brothers for libel,’ the PN asked. But the minister skirted around the questions and said he had already sued PN MP Jason Azzopardi who, in reality, is not the person claiming he holds information about Abela’s alleged involvement in crime.

So Abela is OK with suing someone who repeated the Degiorgios’ claims, but not the Degiorgios themselves. Why is that?

We are not saying that Abela committed a crime – that is not for us to prove. But the fact is that a sitting minister is facing very serious allegations, yet he refuses to step down.

If Abela is innocent, as he claims, then why not suspend himself until his name is cleared?

Other Cabinet members have stepped over for far less serious accusations, including some of Abela’s own colleagues. Rosianne Cutajar, for example, stepped down pending the outcome of an investigation into her alleged property dealings with Yorgen Fenech.

A minister cannot function properly with such serious allegations hanging over his head, especially when they fail to take action against those people they accuse of lying. And a government cannot be taken seriously when it holds on to a minister who is, on a daily basis being accused of complicity in an attempted robbery.

Robert Abela should know better. We all know the reputational damage the government, and the country suffered when Abela’s predecessor, Joseph Muscat, refused to take action against government members who were accused of corruption. We are still suffering the effects today and probably will for a very long time.

At this juncture, there is no other way but for Carmelo Abela to step down or for the PM to force him to do so. Robert Abela cannot afford to repeat Muscat’s mistakes.


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