PM Abela Responds to Benefits Scandal Criticism
In a recent turn of events, Prime Minister Robert Abela has firmly addressed comments made by various political figures regarding the benefits scandal that has gripped Malta. European Parliament President Roberta Metsola had criticized the government’s handling of the situation, prompting Abela to assert that she should take a closer look at her own actions when faced with a corruption case involving Greek MEP Eva Kaili.
On a sunny Sunday, Abela took a resolute stance, emphasizing that even the so-called “big fish” like Silvio Grixti would not receive preferential treatment from the authorities in connection with the benefits fraud scandal.
“The big fish in this case shouldn’t expect to be treated with preferential treatment,” Abela conveyed during an interview in Marsaxlokk, where he defended the government’s actions. He maintained that the government consistently adhered to the law and promptly alerted the authorities whenever suspicions of wrongdoing arose.
Abela specifically responded to comments made by former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, Nationalist Party (PN) leader Bernard Grech, and European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, who had all expressed their concerns about the benefit scheme fraud.
In a strong rebuttal, Abela contended that these figures were not in a position to criticize the government, alluding to what he believed were scandals that had occurred under their leadership.
With a pointed tone, he directed his response towards Metsola’s remarks, suggesting that she should scrutinize her own actions when confronted with a corruption case right within her purview.
Abela was referencing the scandal involving former European Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili, who had been arrested and charged with corruption and money laundering. Her charges were linked to Qatar’s lobbying operation in Brussels. This sprawling police investigation had also led to the arrest and incarceration of former Italian Socialist MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri and Kaili’s partner, Francesco Giorgi, who worked as an assistant to Andrea Cozzolino, an Italian Socialist MEP.
Clearly vexed by the criticism, Abela clarified that the government had taken swift action, being the first to report the irregularities. In contrast, he alleged that Metsola, when faced with a corruption case, had only taken what he described as “cosmetic steps.”
Abela explained that the police had already been conducting their own investigations. He justified the delay, stating, “We didn’t want the independent inquiry to hinder the police investigation.”
FAQs on the Benefits Scandal and Prime Minister Abela's Response
What is the benefits scandal mentioned in the article?
The benefits scandal refers to a controversy in Malta involving fraudulent activities related to social welfare benefits. Several individuals have been implicated in the scandal, leading to criticism and discussions within the political landscape.
Who is Silvio Grixti, and why is he mentioned in the article?
Silvio Grixti is mentioned as one of the individuals involved in the benefits fraud scandal. The article highlights that Prime Minister Robert Abela has emphasized that even high-profile individuals like Grixti will not receive preferential treatment from the authorities.
What comments by European Parliament President Roberta Metsola prompted Prime Minister Abela’s response?
Roberta Metsola had made critical comments regarding the government’s handling of the benefits scandal. Prime Minister Abela responded to her comments by suggesting that she should take a closer look at her own actions during a corruption case involving Greek MEP Eva Kaili.
Who are the other political figures mentioned in the article, and what were their comments about?
The article mentions former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Nationalist Party (PN) leader Bernard Grech. Both had expressed concerns and criticisms regarding the benefit scheme fraud and the government’s response to it.
Why did the government take two years to establish an independent board to assess the alleged abuse in the benefits scandal?
Prime Minister Abela explained that the government did not want the independent inquiry to interfere with the ongoing police investigation. Therefore, they waited until the police had completed their inquiries before initiating an independent assessment.