Joseph Muscat had “angrily” crushed an email containing evidence of corruption involving former PL secretary general Jimmy Magro, the man who blew the whistle on these accusations has testified.
Testifying today in the police’s case against Magro, Victor Bonello said he had protested with “everyone” about the corruption he witnessed, from civil service head Mario Cutajar, to then Local Councils Minister Owen Bonnici and then EU Funds Parliamentary Secretary Ian Borg to the Prime Minister himself.
He said he met up with Muscat at Castille and presented him with an email to back up his claims, but the then Prime Minister was having none of it.
“He got angry. He crushed it and said, ‘don’t come to me with these things’,” Magro testified.
Back in 2014, Bonello had bid for an EU-funded project proposed by the Local Councils Association for the installation of a compost machine. He said he had long held a vision to develop a machine capable of converting organic waste to compost on a national scale, and invested his entire pension fund into his design.
Back then, Magro was a special consultant to the Association and sat on the board that to select the winning bidder of the tender.
Bonello testified today that a week before the tender was issued, Magro emailed him the date it will be issued and the phone number of Kollvik Ltd, who was set to be his rival bidder. He told him to contact Kollvik in advance so they could submit a joint bid.
Bonello said he and Magro, who happened to be old school friends, then met up at Pavi, where Magro revealed he had outstanding tax and holiday bills and asked him for €10,000.
The bidder relayed this request to his partner Disma Attard, who flat out refused to “pay for Magro’s holiday”.
Bonello and Attard didn’t even end up applying for the tender, with Bonello testifying that Attard was in charge of submitting the documentation but overslept and missed the deadline.
The tender was re-issued and this time Bonello applied by himself, but it was awarded to Kollvik. The failed bidder said his quotation was less costly and his machine technologically superior – in fact he argued that Kollvik’s composting machines at Ta’ Qali are still not operating due to poor technology.
Bonello then complained to several authorities before he was eventually contracted by the government’s internal audit and investigations department.
In 2017, the Permanent Commission Against Corruption said it was “morally convinced” that Magro had solicited money as part of the tendering process. Three years later, the police charged Magro with corruption, charges he is pleading not guilty to.
Lawyers Michael and Lucio Sciriha and Matthew Xuereb are defending Magro, while lawyer and PN MP Jason Azzopardi is defending Bonello. Magistrate Ian Farrugia is presiding over the case.
Cover photo: Left: Joseph Muscat, Right: Jimmy Magro
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