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Corruption Commission in limbo for six months

Nominees not yet communicated to president

Updated at 4.30pm with government statement

The Permanent Commission Against Corruption has not conducted any investigations for the past six months, pending the appointment of two new members, the Times of Malta is informed.

The three-member commission is chaired by Judge Lawrence Quintano, who is still in office. The two remaining posts have been vacant since the middle of the year. The post occupied by lawyer Yana Micallef Stafrace became vacant when she was appointed magistrate, and the other opened when former magistrate Joe Cassar passed away suddenly.

The vacancies arose within just weeks of each other.

The sources said that the Office of the Prime Minister had been advised to expedite the appointment of the new members so the commission could do its work. However, the names of the nominees have not yet been communicated to the President.

In accordance with the law, the members are nominated by the Prime Minister after consulting the leader of the Opposition.

There were various reasons the appointments had not yet been made, the sources noted.

One was that the vacancies came not long before the Prime Minister called a snap election, and another was the situation prevailing within the Nationalist Party, which was going through the process of electing a new leader and complicating matters with regard to consultation, they added.

It still seems the Prime Minister is not in a hurry

“Still, now that a new leader of the Opposition has been in office for quite a while, it still seems the Prime Minister is not in a hurry to make sure the anti-corruption commission can continue doing its duty,” the sources remarked.

A spokesman for the Office of the Prime Minister confirmed the stalemate and blamed the Opposition.

“The government has nominated a replacement and is only awaiting the Opposition to nominate its member for the commission to resume its duties,” he said.

This is not the first time that the commission has been unable to function. Following its end of term in November 2013, the Labour government took more than a year to reappoint it.

At the beginning of this year, the commission said in a report that it was convinced former Labour general secretary Jimmy Magro had sought bribes from a public tender. It recommended criminal action against Mr Magro. Ten months on, the police say they are still investigating.

Government statement

In a statement this afternoon, the government said that on April 27, it wrote to the Opposition informing it that it was appointing Philip M. Magri to replace Magistrate Stafrace.

The Opposition, however, failed to nominate anyone to replace Dr Cassar.

After Adrian Delia became leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister formally wrote to him on October 16, requesting a nomination for the Commission to be reconstituted.

However, the Prime Minister had not yet received a reply from the Opposition, the government said.

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