Lowly Ministry Official ‘Acted Alone’ In Alleged Social Housing Bribery Racket
Police are investigating a recording of a ministry customer care official requesting bribes for social housing
The Housing Authority does not believe a former low-ranking government employee who is under police investigation for allegedly requesting bribes in return for social housing had any influence whatsoever on the social housing list.
This would mean that Charles Spiteri, who until recently worked as a customer care official at the parliamentary secretariat for social accommodation, had essentially been tricking people into believing their bribes would help push them up the social housing waiting list.
Lovin Malta is informed Spiteri, a pensioner, was hired by the customer care unit at the Office of the Prime Minister last June and promptly assigned to Roderick Galdes' parliamentary secretariat as one of a handful of his customer care staff.
However, Galdes fired him on the spot late last month after the police informed him they had received a recording which proves Spiteri had been soliciting bribes.
The Malta Independent reported that the person at the other end of the call had sent this recording to deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, who informed Galdes and handed it over to the police himself.
Citing sources, The Malta Independent said Spiteri had been requesting bribes of between €400 and €600 for social housing ever since he took on his new job in June last year. In this particular case, the ‘whistleblower’ was reported to have gone through normal government channels to apply for social housing “only to cross paths with Spiteri, who asked him for an under-the-table payment” of €500. The individual coughed up the money but then reported Spiteri straight to Chris Fearne.
Charles Spiteri was reported to the police by deputy PM Chris Fearne (left) and sacked by parliamentary secretary Roderick Galdes (right)
Yet Spiteri simply didn’t have the power to grant social housing and didn’t even have access to the social housing list. One of a handful of customer care officials at Galdes’ parliamentary secretariat, his job was limited to guiding people with social housing issues through the correct channels. This means Spiteri either had a contact person or people at the Housing Authority, which manages social housing, or he was taking social housing applicants for a ride.
Asked whether an internal investigation is ongoing to find out whether Spiteri had an accomplice in the Housing Authority, an OPM spokesperson simply told Lovin Malta that the police are investigating the case.
However, Housing Authority CEO Stephen McCarthy was more forthcoming, stating point blank that Spiteri “had no contact with Housing Authority employees”.
“He was extraneous to the allocation procedure and had no influence whatsoever in the decision-making process,” he said. “As a matter of procedure all allocations are decided by the allocations board in a separate and transparent manner. The Housing Authority will take all the necessary disciplinary actions when and if there will be the necessity and recommendation.”
"The Housing Authority will take all the necessary disciplinary actions when and if there will be the necessity and recommendation."
McCarthy also confirmed that the Housing Authority did not receive a single report of social housing bribery in the past two years.