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Two more on oil corruption charges

Pair deny charges in court

Tarcisio Mifsud. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Tarcisio Mifsud. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Alfred MalliaAlfred Mallia

The former financial controller of Enemalta, Tarcisio Mifsud, and an ex-member of the corporation’s oil procur­e­­ment committee, Alfred Mallia, were yesterday charged with corruption.

Four people have already gone before them in facing criminal action in connection with the oil procurement scandal, as the police make further progress in their investigation of recent allegations that illicit commissions changed hands in 2004.

The two men were yesterday charged separately, with a frail looking Mr Mallia going first and having to use a walking stick to get to the dock.

Both pleaded not guilty to the charge of corruption between 1998 and 2003.

They were granted bail against a deposit of €5,000 and personal guarantee of €30,000. The court ordered their assets to be frozen.

In requesting bail for his client Mr Mallia, lawyer Chris Balzan said he was a grandfather of 11, with heart failure and a degenerative disease. He argued that the other defendants in the case had been granted bail when their alleged involvement was far more serious.

He added that his client was a pensioner and not a big businessman and could not afford a large deposit.

Lawyer Stefano Filletti, representing Mr Mifsud, argued similarly that bail had been granted to the other defendants in the case, two of whom had been branded as the masterminds, Tancred Tabone and Frank Sammut, and the other two who were businessmen. He argued there was no comparison between those defendants, who were of significant financial means, and the two men charged yesterday, who were simply pensioners.

The prosecution, led by Police Inspector Angelo Gafà, strongly objected to bail being granted to Mr Mifsud. He argued that during the investigation he had set up a confrontation between Mr Mifsud and Mr Mallia and the former had made threats against the latter.

Mr Mifsud, he said, had also accused Mr Mallia of being “too good” and letting everyone do as they pleased with him.

Dr Filletti said his client had not made threats but had contested the allegations that Mr Mallia made against him and had told him he would take legal action against him.

As the arraignment got under way, Magistrate Miriam Hayman noted that Mr Mifsud’s house was called Molineux and said that to have named his house after the stadium of Wolverhampton Wanderers, he must be a supporter.

Mr Mifsud said he was indeed a fan of Wolves, adding that Molineux translated into “out of darkness cometh light”. He then repeated that sentence several times.

Mr Tabone, Enemalta’s former chairman, and his one-time adviser Mr Sammut have been charged with bribery, fraud and money laundering. They pleaded not guilty.

Anthony Cassar, the chairman of Cassar Ship Repair Limited, and Francis Portelli of Virtu Ferries, have been charged with corruption and money laundering in the case, also denying the charges.

The police investigation has so far followed two tracks: one has looked into bribes allegedly taken by Mr Sammut from Dutch oil traders Trafigura on consignments destined for Enemalta; the other centring on the corporation’s former oil bunkering subsidiary (MOBC) and a firm that later took a significant share of its business, Island Bunkering Oil Ltd.

In the proceedings against Mr Tabone, which started on Monday, it emerged that Mr Sammut told the police he had split kickbacks he received from Trafigura on the sale of oil, totalling some $250,000, with Mr Tabone.

Mr Tabone denied to the police that he ever offered or received bribe money.

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