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Gatt has to explain "Aust" reference in scandal e-mails - Muscat

Gatt has to explain "Aust" reference in scandal e-mails - Muscat

Updated February 12, 9.30am

Joseph Muscat said this evening that while he could not pass judgement on the conditions attached to the presidential pardon given in the oil procurement scandal, Infrastructure Minister Austin Gatt needed to explain the reference to 'Aust' in the scandal e-mails revealed by The Sunday Times.

Speaking tonight in Kirkop, Dr Muscat said:

"The fact that a presidential pardon has been given means that someone has admitted wrongdoing and so this is no longer an allegation," Dr Muscat said.

However, he reiterated that on a political level the Prime Minister and Transport Minister Austin Gatt had a lot to explain about the correspondence revealed by The Sunday Times.

The correspondence, an exchange of emails between oil traders, includes reference to somebody with the initials "AG" and "Aust". In one email to then Enemalta chairman Tancred Tabone, an oil trader asked how the meeting with the minister went.

Dr Muscat said he would not speculate who "AG" may be, but the reference to "Aust" required a clear explanation from Dr Gatt.

"The correspondence published in The Sunday Times makes you cringe," he insisted.

At the time the correspondence took place Dr Gatt was politically responsible for Enemalta. The minister has denied any wrongdoing or ever discussing Enemalta oil tenders with anyone. He has urged anyone with information to go immediately to the police.

Interviewed by TV presenters Simone Cini and Robert Musumeci, the Labour leader said the only yardstick of how important the pardon was to the criminal case being pursued by the police was the strength of the evidence the pardoned individual would give in court to help in the prosecution of other people.

He said a whistleblower act would have avoided all this because politicians, who may have an interest in the case that comes before them, will have no say in who gets a pardon.

AUSTIN GATT REPLIES

In a statement this morning, Dr Gatt said:

"I reiterate that I never, ever discussed the business of tenders for oil by Enemalta with George Farrugia or had any conversation with him that remotely touched on such subjects. The email referred to by Dr. Muscat does not say or imply otherwise."

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