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MALTATODAY 18 September 2022

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4 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 18 SEPTEMBER 2022 NEWS Suspension of TM officials leading to longer waiting times for driving tests KARL AZZOPARDI THE suspension of three Trans- port Malta officials over cor- ruption allegations has resulted in prolonged waiting times for learners who apply for a driving test. The situation has led tge ap- plicants for a car driving test in Malta to wait for around six to eight weeks. Learners in Gozo are worse off, having to wait for up to three months. Those applying to get a licence for heavy vehicles and motor- cycles also have to wait for two to three months due to the staff shortage spurred by the investi- gation. Transport Malta director for Land Transport Directorate Clint Mansueto, former Żebbuġ Labour councillor Philip Edrick Zammit, and Raul Antonio Pace, are pleading not guilty to charges of corruption and trad- ing in influence. The police are analysing over 200 names found in diaries con- fiscated from Clint Mansueto. Investigators seized diaries for 2021 and 2022, which contained around 250 names. According to reports, police are matching those names with text messages and other infor- mation to determine whether they were all granted preferen- tial treatment. Sources have said most of the names were listed as "appoint- ments" but in certain cases, the names, ID cards and dates cor- responded precisely with the date the individuals sat, and passed their driving exam. Industry sources have said Raul Pace's suspension has caused a disruption in the schedule. Pace was charged with handling the scheduling of driving test from Monday to Friday. "The scheduling of tests has also been moved from TM's Floriana offices to their offices in Lija," one of the sources said. When car instructors were flagging to TM officials that Mansueto's absence was result- ing in a backlog, they were told that a replacement could not be picked until a court sentence is issued. Mansueto has since been suspended on half-pay from Transport Malta. Speaking on the ongoing court proceedings, the industry source said that issues had long been flagged to the authorities. "When driving instructors were noticing wrongdoing and reported these allegations to authorities in Transport Mal- ta, the answer would always be 'where is the proof?'" he said. "It was obvious that there were attempts to play down the sus- picions." A driving instructor, who spoke to this newspaper under condition of anonymity, said that just a few months before the allegations were made, a learner had applied for a driving test with him. "While his ini- tial application for the test was being processed, the student went to another driving school, applied for a change in driv- ing school, applied for the test again, and took the test. It was so blatant that he didn't even bother to get the money he paid me for the first test refunded." Testifying on Thursday, the police inspector investigating the bribery of Transport Mal- ta officials told a court that he has not yet spoken to the peo- ple suspected of instigating the bribery. Despite the court having been told about an implicated Labiyr minister, lists of candi- dates from different ministries, and the involvement of people linked to "a political party", police have not yet questioned those who allegedly ordered Transport Malta officials to give preferential treatment to certain candidates in their driv- ing tests. When he was questioned, Mansueto had told the police that he was placed under pres- sure by a minister, who was not named in court, into helping certain individuals pass their driving test. These individuals had been carrying out works at the minister's villa. Questions sent to the trans- port authority were unanswered by the time of going to print. MAT THEW VELLA WITH some 19 officers having left the Financial Crime and Investigation De- partment (FCID) over the last year, the police force could be set to lose the ser- vices of deputy commissioner Alexan- dra Mamo, who has now been out on long leave for the past four weeks. The FCID was led by Deputy Com- missioner Alexandra Mamo for the past two years. Mamo was an Assistant Commissioner when she was appointed chief of FCID in July of 2020. She was eventually promoted to Deputy Com- missioner a year later. But the FCID has yet to wait for a new head after the preferred candidate, Su- perintendent Frank Tabone, head of the anti-money laundering unit, signalled his intention to quit the force in favour of a legal career. The FCID has lost countless of its of- ficers to positions in the legal and fi- nancial services sector where salaries are far more competitive, apart from having the most high-profile cases in recent years. The department is responsible for in- vestigating and prosecuting financial crimes, money laundering, terrorist fi- nancing, and corruption and bribery. After Tabone, shortlisted candidates included Superintendent George Cre- mona. Iosif Galea EAW inquiry An internal inquiruy launched by the independent police complaints com- mission has revealed that administra- tive shortcomings by two police offi- cials, led to the Maltese police force failing to take action on a European Arrest Warrant issued by the German financial police on a tax investigation concerning gaming consultant Iosif Galea. The EAW request was ignored by the police office responsible for interna- tional requests, despite three reminders from the German police. This left the investigators overseeing an investigation into Galea over charg- es of trading in influence with a former MGA chief officer, in the dark as to the EAW. Galea, who is on police bail in Malta, was granted leave to take a three-day holiday but ended up being arrested in Italy due to the EAW issued by the Germans. He is still in Germa- ny in custody, having been extradited there from Italy. The internal investigation revealed that top brass were unaware of the EAW, having never been alerted in the first place about the German request. Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà himself requested the internal investi- gation, over allegations that Galea was allowed to travel in spite of the EAW and while on police bail. Gafà had himself investigated Iosif Galea back in 2012 as part of the Mal- tese Dalligate investigation, in which former EU Commissioner John Dalli was suspected of having communicat- ed with a canvasser, Silvio Zammit, on the prospect of a multi-million bribe re- lated to smokeless tobacco legislation. Galea was then identified as a friend of both Dalli and Zammit, as well as of lobbyist Gayle Kimberley, also impli- cated in the OLAF investigation carried out in Brussels. Deputy Commissioner out on long leave

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