The Malta Independent 21 April 2024, Sunday
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Whistleblower testifies on Transport Malta driving test corruption racket

Monday, 4 March 2024, 14:19 Last update: about 3 months ago

The man who blew the whistle on a corrupt racket at Transport Malta’s licensing department has given his account of how he had been made to choose between complying with illegal orders or dismissal.

Testifying remotely via video link, Adel Ali Hassan, told Magistrate Rachel Montebello how Transport Malta’s director of licensing, Clint Mansueto, would present him with lists containing the names of driving test candidates, pressing him to “help” them pass their theory test.

Mansueto had told him that one particular candidate, from Qormi, had to pass “to get a vote for transport minister Ian Borg.” Likewise an Albanian candidate “who was doing work on a minister’s villa.” He had not been told which minister, he said.

The witness told the court that he was told he would be fired if he did not pass the candidates. “When my colleagues who carried out the practical tests didn’t obey, he would either fire them or get his revenge on them some other way.”

Mansueto had also told him to strike off some names, he said, from the list of those who had to pay for their driving test “to make it look as if I hadn’t done them.”

The police had started investigating after the witness sent them an email in 2020, revealing the alleged corrupt scheme.

Clint Mansueto, director of licensing and his two underlings Raul Antonio Pace and Philip Edrick Zammit were subsequently charged with corruption-related offences. They are pleading not guilty.

A previous sitting scheduled for his testimony had to be abandoned due to language difficulties, so the whistleblower took the witness stand again today assisted by an Arabic language interpreter.

He had lived in Malta for around 15 years, he said, during which time he had used his language skills to work as a sworn interpreter for Transport Malta between November 2005 to September 2020.

He said he would receive emails containing the names of the candidates and the languages he would be required to interpret from. “I would reply according to whether I could or not.”

Mansueto would send the emails sometimes, other times Pace or Zammit would do so.

Asked who would send him these emails in 2015, he replied: “Clint Mansueto, who would order a certain Luke Daniel who was before Raul and Philip.”

The whistleblower said he would get to know about the candidates who had to be passed through a message or phone call, summoning him to Mansueto’s office, where Mansueto would hand him the list of candidates.

“Clint would pay me in cash for the people who were not declared on the list of candidates,”  he said, explaining that he would be paid for passing the candidates who did not appear on the list which would be sent to the TM accounts department.

These instructions would not be sent by SMS or over the phone, but in Mansueto’s office, he said. “He would close the office door and find a way to disperse the rest of the workers in the office and only then would he give me the candidates’ particulars. He would tell me that these are people who must pass because he’s under pressure from high ranking officials…”

He would receive €60 for tests relating to licence categories A to D, but would be paid €90 for licences for trucks and large vehicles, as they took longer.

Mansueto would take a cut of the money that the interpreter would receive, he said. On one occasion he was supposed to be paid €180, for which the candidate had paid €200, but had only received €150. He said Mansueto had told him that he would be keeping €50 for himself, adding that this had happened in tests for Category B licences between August and September 2020.

“One candidate from Pakistan could not understand a word in Arabic,” he said and another Albanian candidate spoke only Italian. “Mr Philip had watched me the whole time, both me and the printer, to see the results.”

Asked what had led to the termination of his employment at Transport Malta, he said that a mistake in the shift calendar caused him to turn up for a job where he found a certain Philip carrying out translations for some Arab-speaking candidates. “Philip did not speak or understand a word of Arabic,” he said.

“At that moment I realised there was a legal and moral obligation and the next day I went to speak to Mr Clint [Mansueto]… I asked him how Philip could translate when he did not understand Arabic… I was suspended because he felt I was a threat,” he said.

Hassan, an interpreter by profession, was a Labour Party activist and was also elected secretary of the local Balzan club in 2008. His residence permit was revoked in 2021.

Lawyer Joe Giglio dictated a note querying why the witness had not been charged, when his client, Pace, was just a clerk who handled files and had ended up in the dock.

AG lawyer Abigail Caruana Vella and Inspector Wayne Borg prosecuted. Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Jacob Magri assisted Mansueto.
Lawyer Joe Giglio assisted Pace and lawyer Herman Mula assisted Zammit.

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