Gatt: I am serene because I did nothing wrong - will ask police to investigate e-mails
Minister says he met Farrugia, infrequently, about once every three months, but never about tenders or oil procurement
Infrastructure Minister Austin Gatt said this afternoon that he was serene in the knowledge that he had done nothing wrong in the oil procurement scandal allegations.
Speaking at a press conference at his ministry, he said that it was right that newspapers uncovered the case, however he was not ready to accept baseless insinuations in his regard, particularly malicious insinuations by the PL and its media.
Dr Gatt pointed out that he had a track record of suspending calls for tender and calling in the police to investigate whenever allegations of some wrongdoing were made. In a contract involving Mater Dei Hospital, for example, a man had been taken to court after he had asked the police to intervene.
Had he had any information about irregularities in oil procurement, he would have similarly gone to the police immediately.
However he stressed that he never had any inkling that corruption was taking place.
Dr Gatt insisted once more that he never discussed oil tenders with George Farrugia, the person who was granted a pardon last week.
Referring to media reports, he said the published e-mails could be forgeries and indicated a frame-up by the Labour Party, and he would therefore file a police report.
He noted that there were inconsistencies between an e-mail published by The Times (today) and the one published by Malta Today.
A representative of The Times explained that the e-mail published in The Times had been retyped because of the poor quality of the original found on facebook, as was explained in the caption of the newspaper.
Dr Gatt accepted this version of events, but he insisted that there were further inconsistencies, such as the date being in Maltese instead of English, which still merited investigation.
Continuing, Dr Gatt said the references in the e-mails to AG and Aust as well as 'minister' could be a reference to him, but he denied that this implicated him in some way.
He said the police had not sent for him again after the new e-mails were published.
He said he had no problem with collaborating fully with the investigators but was respecting the Police Commissioner's wish not to publish the statement he had given the police while investigations were continuing.
Anyone with information had a duty to go to the police, he insisted.
Asked about political responsibility, he said he saw two aspects - whether one did something directly in a way which was criminal or unethical, or, secondly, by omission.
In this case, an Oil Procurement Board constituted of a large number of people was responsible for oil procurement. There were written procedures about oil purchases.
How did a minister remain responsible?
With regard to former Enemalta chairman Tancred Tabone, he said there was no accusation against him. In appointing him to head Enemalta, the government had appointed a very very successful businessman who had also been chairman of the Water Services Corporation and the Chamber of Commerce.
So what did one do in this case?
Dr Gatt said he did not feel he should resign.
MEETINGS WITH GEORGE FARRUGIA
When replying to other questions, Dr Gatt said that he had met Mr Farrugia several times in relation to Enemalta but they had never discussed oil procurement or tenders.
Asked how many times he had met Mr Farrugia he said 'roughly once every three months.'
He denied ever making 'even one cent' illicitly.
He said that had the prime minister or the attorney general had a problem about his presence at a Cabinet meeting which decided the pardon, they would have told him, but no one had any such issue.
Asked whether he had an account in a Swiss bank, Dr Gatt said the account was opened by his father, inherited by his mother and now by him.