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Any corruption or trading in influence will be hunted out- PM

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'Elements of corruption or trading in influence will be hunted'The Prime Minister Dr Lawrence Gonzi, in a statment this afternoon made his position clear following the news that the former Enemalta chairman Tancred Tabone along with his consultant Frank Sammut were arraigned and accused of corruption in Enemalta oil purchases.

In his statement the Prime Minister said, “I cannot accept that persons, appointed to safeguard the public interest on public entities, betray the trust that has been placed in them.

“Thus it is with profound disappointment that I have learned about the arraignment of Mr Tancred Tabone, a prominent member of the business community, in connection with events that allegedly took place while he was responsible for safeguarding the public interest on the board of a public corporation.

“The fact that these events appear to have taken place some nine years ago and that Mr Tabone’s appointment as chairman of Enemalta Corporation had not been renewed in 2005 is no comfort to me at all.

“The behaviour of persons appointed to boards of public entities is regulated by both the law and the established Code of Ethics for Board Directors in the Public Sector. Notwithstanding the good work that might be done by an individual in his private capacity, I reiterate that I cannot accept that any appointees, let alone leaders in our community, betray the trust that has been placed in them.

“In such situations they undermine the confidence of the general public not only in public institutions in general, and in the management of certain public sector entities in particular, but also in the private sector – which must remain the pillar for growth and proper management of resources in this open economy of ours. The law and a separate established Code of Ethics for Employees in the Public Sector apply also to employees of such public entities.

“Mr Tabone was incumbent chairman of Enemalta and of the Mediterranean Offshore Bunkering Co Ltd when I became Prime Minister in 2004. His two-year appointment was not renewed when it expired on 30th June 2005. His membership of public boards after that day was restricted to positions nominated by the Malta Chamber of Commerce and later the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry.

“Mr Tabone served as president of this Chamber, having led the then Malta Chamber of Commerce to its merger with the Malta Federation of Industry in 2008; he was also nominated by the Chamber’s to serve as its representative on the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development and Malta Enterprise.

“In August 2003 Mr Tabone, in his capacity as Enemalta chairman, gave Mr Frank Sammut a 1-year consultancy appointment which, according to Enemalta’s records, was not renewed on instructions from Minister Austin Gatt. Mr Sammut was a Member of the Enemalta Board between 1987 and 1990 and, according to Enemalta’s records, he was a member of its fuel procurement committee between 1987 and 1998.

“Mr Sammut was also appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Mediterranean Offshore Bunkering Co Ltd in August 2000 while Mr Tabone served as that Company’s chairman (1999 – 2005). I am also informed that Mr Sammut was an officer or employee of the Mediterranean Offshore Bunkering Co Ltd between 1988 and July 2004, when his employment was terminated.

“It is not for me to disclose the details of the case against Mr Tabone and Mr Sammut. That is a matter for the police. I have done everything in my power to facilitate the investigation of all allegations, including issuing an amnesty to whoever was prepared to collaborate and give evidence in court that will expose all wrongdoing.

“I ask the media and members of the public to await the outcome of proceedings and to allow justice to take its course in the interest of all.

“However, I have to state in the most unequivocal terms that any elements of corruption or trading in influence will continue to be hunted by our national institutions while I have any form of responsibility for the public administration of this country.

“Any individual, whether he or she is an officer or employee of the public administration or deals with such persons, will have to answer for his or her actions – as others, some high profile and others less so, have already done during past Nationalist administrations.

“Legal powers and measures have continued to be strengthened over the years, including major increases in penalties and the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act. Other changes remain necessary. Apart from the enactment of two Bills proposed in the outgoing legislature which included the extension of the prescription period in corruption cases, the introduction of a special prosecutor attached to the Anti-Corruption Commission, extending the remit of the Anti-Corruption Commission substantially and providing for the chairman of this Anti-Corruption Commission to be appointed by Parliament (through a two-thirds vote), the Nationalist Party in its Electoral Programme is proposing more measures for the next legislature which include the confiscation of all assets that may be generated from corruption, the further increase of prison sentences for crimes involving corruption, and the removal of the possibility of probation or suspended sentences in corruption cases,” the Prime Minister concluded.

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