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Driving license scandal: Ian Borg, customer care team just doing their job - PM

Robert Abela on Sunday brushed off revelations about how a web of public officials identified the names of people who should be favoured during the driving license process.

Addressing a Labour event, the prime minister defended Foreign Minister Ian Borg and government customer care officials who engaged in the practice. 

One of those officials, Ray Mizzi, who worked in Abela’s office, linked the process to winning votes.

The prime minister however dismissed Times of Malta’s revelations as “recycled”.

Abela said the authorities had already investigated the case and acted on “alleged irregularities”.

Last year, Transport Malta’s former director of licensing Clint Mansueto and two low-level clerks were charged with corruption. All three deny wrongdoing.

Abela heaped praise on customer officials who do their utmost to help people.

“Should we stop our primary function of helping people… should I stop answering my phone,” Abela questioned.

Abela said if anything, he is disappointed at the fact that more remains to be done when it comes to helping people.

“Ian Borg was just doing his job. Shall I tell him to stop doing his job,” Abela asked.

Abela praised Borg’s work as Foreign Minister and turned his guns on the Opposition.

He said people from all political hues ask for assistance, including PN MPs.

The prime minister said PN MP Beppe Fenech Adami was one of those who sought Borg’s help.

In a reference to lawyer Joe Giglio, Abela pointed out that a PN MP is defending one of the Transport Malta officials accused in court.

WhatsApp chats obtained by Times of Malta show minister Borg, his canvasser Jesmond Zammit, and his ministry personnel regularly piled pressure on  Mansueto to "help" selected candidates. 

Hundreds of candidates were given to Mansueto to have their tests fast-tracked and even for "help" to secure a driving licence.

Chats show how some candidates would be advised not to allow their driving instructor to be present in the car during the practical exam, to facilitate the scheme. 

The chats reveal a litany of requests to help prospective drivers, from an "opm vvip client" to candidates whose driving skills appeared to leave much to be desired. 

Rachel Debono, Abela's personal assistant, is one of those who engaged in the practice during her time as a Transport Malta official.