The Malta Independent 17 July 2024, Wednesday
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Social benefits fraud: Andy Ellul’s former driver offers to testify against co-accused

Tuesday, 18 June 2024, 13:26 Last update: about 28 days ago

Roger Agius, one of the five men facing charges of organising a social benefits fraud racket, has applied for whistleblower status and expressed willingness to testify in ongoing police investigations, a court was told today.

This emerged on Tuesday as the compilation of evidence against medical doctor and former Labour MP Silvio Grixti and his alleged co-conspirators: Roger Agius, Emmanuel Spagnol, Dustin Caruana, and Luke Saliba continued before magistrate Rachel Montebello.

The men stand charged with offences relating to fraud and organised crime, in connection with a fraudulent scheme which allowed beneficiaries, hailing mostly from Labour Party strongholds, to fraudulently receive monthly social benefit payments for severe disabilities which they did not suffer from in reality.

At the end of today’s sitting, after three police officers and two civilian officers finished testifying about technical aspects of the investigation, Agius’ lawyer, Jason Azzopardi, asked the court to grant his client permission to testify in the proceedings.

Azzopardi informed the court that his client had written to the Whistleblower Unit at the Office of the Prime Minister and formally requested whistleblower status. “He basically alleged certain things about Mark Calleja l-Gulija…,” said the lawyer.

Being one of the defendants, Agius cannot testify without the permission of the court.

In a previous sitting, Azzopardi had described Calleja, employed on a “person of trust” basis at the Social Welfare Ministry, having ordered several reconsiderations of failed applications for severe disability benefits.

The court directed Azzopardi to make his request by means of a court application and not verbally.

The case will continue next month.

Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Kris Busietta represented Agius. Michael Schriha represented Caruana and Spagnol. Franco Debono and Arthur Azzopardi represented Grixti. Saliba was represented by Jose Herrera and Matthew Xuereb.

Police Inspectors Wayne Borg, Andy Rotin and Shaun Friggieri are prosecuting, assisted by lawyers Abigail Caruana Vella, Charmaine Abdilla from the Office of the Attorney General.

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