Cabinet facing criminal investigation for misusing public funds

DOI - Jason Borg

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Ministers and parliamentary secretaries are facing a criminal investigation into their misuse of public funds after an investigation by the Standards Commissioner found that four of them had used public funds to pay for advertising on their personal Facebook profiles.

It was only after the Standards Commissioner report that different ministries and parliamentary secretariats started setting up official ministry pages.

The issue was first investigated after Lovin Malta’s CEO Chris Peregin had filed a complaint with the Standards Commissioner about the possibility that ministers were using public funds and resources to boost their own Facebook pages instead of setting up official ministry pages.

On Wednesday, Lovin Malta first broke out the news of a magisterial inquiry which is being led by magistrate Doreen Clarke, on Wednesday.

A separate investigation by the Economic Crimes Unit is also underway.

The Standards Commissioner had found that Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg, Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri and Finance Minister Edward Scicluna had made incorrect use of public funds on social media posts.

The matter was then referred to the National Audit Office for a wider investigation. The NAO had referred the matter to the police after it said that it did not have the power to conduct a criminal investigation into the matter.

The Nationalist Party had called on the NAO to give this investigation utmost priority, while anti-corruption NGO Repubblika had called for a full investigation and for ministers to pay back any funds that were misappropriated.