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Top News • 11 July 2007

As PM defends Mugliett, livid Dalli talks of air tickets ‘investigation’

Lawrence Gonzi’s contrasting treatment of the resignations offered by Jesmond Mugliett last week and that of former minister John Dalli three years ago have revealed major divergences over the Prime Minister’s handling of the two affairs.
Last week, the Prime Minister turned down Mugliett’s offer of resignation over his alleged role in the ADT scandal. But while similarly dismissing corruption claims against Dalli three years ago, Gonzi nonetheless accepted the resignation of his former leadership rival, arguing that he could not tolerate having “a minister under investigation.”
But MaltaToday confirmed yesterday that the Auditor General’s “investigation” into the airline tickets purchased by Dalli’s foreign ministry in 2004 – believed to have been the basis upon which Gonzi accepted Dalli’s resignation in the first place – was not the focus of the National Audit Office’s audit at all.
On the contrary, this newspaper can confirm that Auditor General Joe G. Galea is not investigating the practice of the former minister’s procurement of airline tickets, but simply carrying out a comprehensive analysis of all ministries’ purchasing procedures.
This audit into the procurement of airline tickets therefore could not have been the investigation Gonzi had in mind. For his part, Dalli has always insisted that Gonzi had the fabricated Joe Zahra report in mind when he passed the “minister under investigation” remark.
Speaking to MaltaToday yesterday, John Dalli said the airline tickets issue – namely, the purchase of Lm40,000 in air tickets for the foreign ministry from Tourist Resources Ltd, a company connected to his family’s business interests – was “the excuse used by the prime minister to accept my resignation, short of not being accused of any wrongdoing.”
“I know I have done nothing wrong, and that I did not abuse of public money in the procurement of the air tickets, which is why I suggested Lawrence Gonzi to order an audit into the matter,” Dalli said.

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