Fraudulent traffic officers were claiming thousands in overtime payments without ever showing up for work and other illegal claims are being revealed as the fallout from a racket within the traffic police force threatens to uncover corruption in several branches of the Maltese police force.
One informed source who spoke to Lovin Malta on condition of anonymity spoke about a culture where money reigned supreme, omertà ensured nothing was uncovered, and some officers even demanded sexual favours in return for having fines forgiven.
“This is going to explode in all the special branches within the police force. Up until now, everyone has been happy-go-lucky, but everyone from the Rapid Intervention Unit (RIU) and beyond will be investigated,” the source told Lovin Malta.
With 40 of Malta’s 50 traffic officers being called in for questioning in relation to a major racket that permeates throughout the police force hierarchy, the details of how scores of Maltese officers were able to claim thousands of euros for work they never did have begun to be revealed.
1. ‘Extra’ duties were being abused to pay for the work of an officer who never showed up for work.
“So, for example, you have the standard overtime, which you can claim when you’ve worked past your allotted time, and you can fill out a form to get this. But the police force also has what we refer to as ‘extra’, which is where officers get paid by a private entity which is putting on an event of some sort,” the source explained.
“Let’s say Lovin Malta wants to do a party, and they need four police officers to be present – LM pays for the extras. But, what happens is that the person on duty in the locality, who would have been at the local police station anyway, gets sent to the event instead of the ‘extra’, and the ‘extra’ officer just never shows up…. but would still get paid.”
2. And though there were meant to be multiple checks and balances, no one ever flagged the excess overtime.
“Was no one checking the actual overtime sheets?” they asked. “Where were the officers working, and who signed their documents? The sheets themselves need to pass through many levels – the constables need to give it to a major, then the major needs the consent of the inspector, and then it needs to pass through a superintendent and eventually the assistant commissioner of the traffic section.”
The source believed the RIU would be next to be investigated, saying: “the RIU has a tonne of overtime” while confirming that the traffic police racket has been going on for about three years, though it was only reported around four months ago.
3. Some officers forced women to trade sexual favours in return for forgiving traffic fines.
“Allegedly, some women who were given traffic fines were asked for sexual favours to forgive the fines,” the source said. “This is going to be hard to prove and for the women to come forward… it won’t be easy for them to admit they had sex with an officer for a fine, it’s embarrassing.”
They noted that this was revealed after multiple officers were heard bragging about who they had slept with already.
4. RIU and traffic officers apparently disabled the GPS’ on their vehicles to not be tracked.
“They have a program called Data Track on their vehicles, and they would play with them so you’d never know where they are. Now, the control room had oversight into this – did they never report anything?”
5. And there are claims that some officers were obtaining petrol for free for their cars and motorcycles.
The source noted that this would not be the first time an allegation of that sort had arisen in the corps.
6. Certain officers were able to “easily” claim between €3,000 and €5,000 extra a month in undeserved benefits.
For example, certain officers were claiming overtime for positions they claim they did on a Sunday…. when the location or building they were meant to be overseeing would never even open on a Sunday.
“Some would get €4,000 or €5,000 extra every month… and somehow, no one from accounts noticed?” the source asked.
“If someone left an hour early, say, I can understand it. But this is just extra money they don’t deserve, just extra money that they filled out a form to get.”
“They lied – this is literally fraud.”
“In the past, if you wanted to get an extra day off or something, maybe you could give your superior a rabbit or something. But now, now it’s all about money.”
7. “Now, they’ll make a show with those 30 or so people they caught”.
“There are about 2,000 officers in the corps… they’ll do a show with 30 of them, and that will be that. They’ll get these guys who really messed up, and try them, but then they’ll try to cover up the rest,” the source said.
In the wake of this national racket being uncovered, the news has made international headlines. The crackdown has been welcomed by Prime Minister Robert Abela as proof that Malta’s institutions are working.