So a lot of those who corrupted Enemalta employees to ‘fix’ their meters are in fact business operators

Published: April 9, 2014 at 12:17pm

How very Taghna Lkoll – no wonder they’re not being prosecuted. This would be largely to avoid publication of their names, which publication is not a permissible or acceptable act by the government of a democratic state, and so their names can become known only at the point of arraignment in court.

Times of Malta reports today:

The smart meter scandal is threatening the future of a number of businesses that have to pay bills running into thousands of euros.

Informed sources said some SMEs that had owed up to the theft had problems paying the outstanding amounts, plus a fine and interest.

Enemalta CEO Frederick Azzopardi told Times of Malta the corporation was willing to strike deals that would allow the businesses involved to remain open while repaying the outstanding bills.

“My intention is to recoup the money owed to the corporation, not to make life impossible for business owners or to see them going bust,” he said.

One possibility, he explained, would be to offer repayment terms spread over a number of years to give some breathing space to businesses that would otherwise be crippled as a result of their own wrongdoing.

While acknowledging that such an arrangement might not prove to be popular, as the corporation could be perceived as taking a soft stance with the big fish, he said adopting extreme measures could be counter productive.

43 Comments Comment

    • A+ says:

      Joseph Muscat promised transparency. The least he can do is publish the list of offenders, failing which, everybody will be entitled to deduce that he owes something to people in that list.

      [Daphne – He most certainly should NOT published the names. What is this – the Chinese Cultural Revolution? Governments and corporations are, in a democracy, not free to release the names of those who have done something wrong or who they think have done something wrong. Not even the police can do that, hence ‘a man of 57 is helping the police with their enquiries’. Publication is at the point of arraignment in court. Then, the information is no longer privileged and publication is – actually – part and parcel of the right to a fair hearing in a PUBLIC trial.

      God forbid we should go down that road of governments publishing the names of wrong-doers. First of all, the aggrieved party is Enemalta Corporation, not ‘the government’, and Enemalta is no more in a position to publish the names of those who cheated it than any other corporation is.

      You should separate the issues: you should call for prosecution (with publication), and not for publication without prosecution.]

      • Jozef says:

        Dunno Daphne, I would like to know who’s getting their outstanding bills staggered lest his business runs out of ideas.

        I believe class action, prosecution, by those who didn’t should prevail. Else, it’s nothing unlike the seventies licenses rackets.

        Blacklisting these guys for government contracts the least expected.

      • Gahan says:

        Name and shame the bribers.
        60% of Enemalta is ours , we have the right to know who thieved those €30,000,000 every year from a company in which we are major shareholders.

  1. M. Cassar says:

    Aren’t we forgetting the small detail that, because these businesses committed a crime, I, as a private citizen, had to pay higher power tariffs AND they could have easily ran other business, who operated above board, to the ground?

    They had an unfair advantage and now have difficulty making up for it and everyone is now expected to believe that they have converted to the straight and narrow path? Please!

    We should adopt a new slogan: instead of ‘justice is blind’ let us all chant ‘crime pays’.

    • joe says:

      perhaps even a check on their life style should be in order. Many businesses show negative Profit and Loss Accounts which are not congruent with their personal lifestyle.

    • Jozef says:

      Exactly, what kind of reasoning is this Frederick Azzopardi’s? The message given is very simple, carry on with what you were doing, just don’t get caught.

      As for the ones who paid their bills and tried to compete, tough, they should have done the same.

      Truly a case of treating quality as some obstacle to success.

      As for this Frederick Azzopardi, he was parked into Project House in 1996, actually had the gall to tell an office full of architects and engineers he had been sent there by the new minister.

      After a couple of months doing nothing he was finally asked to supervise paving works in Republic Street. The ones where adjoining street levels somehow never matched.

      It’s not just crime that pays, it’s being utterly mediocre and playing to a party tune.

      • La Redoute says:

        There’s another, related rubbish message. Government, i.e. we, is paying for adverts telling us to go ahead and consume more electrical power because of ‘cheaper bills for families’. Cheaper bills at the point of consumption do not lower overall costs.

        Shouldn’t this half-witted government encourage reducing consumption? That would mean really lower costs, and not just at the point of consumption.

      • Jozef says:

        Yes, then they’ll promise all sorts of alternative energy, subsidies and denigrate night tariffs.

        The problem is consumption, the underlying message consume like there’s no tomorrow.

        Weird how this dovetails with the horror at having no excuse to use a bus, declaring a cultural counter revolution on land use and the promotion of brutality in everything humans are supposed to refine by doing.

        It was a sight last year, watching Mercieca’s talk show, they’d go on talking about some sacrosanct right of every ‘housewife’ to own a spacious washroom. And how MEPA was destroying their wish for a better future.

        If it’s true that they genuinely believe that to be some legitimate aspiration, imagine the limits when it comes to resolving these problems, amplified by the islands’ size and resources.

        That alone will be Muscat’s downfall, something will have to give. All those who took an equidistant stand are in part responsible for this mess. The discussion here is scientific, not political.

        Never was the PN in a better place to tackle this essential, fundamental, core question. Independence takes on many forms. One of them being a maturity in seeing through materialism’s vulgar end, one where excess remains the promise to happiness.

        Needs elegant solutions to beat. Don’t see Labour capable of refinement to the level required. Mintoff sealed their fate when he defined Malta as pertaining to the third world. Theirs is a dead end. Muscat’s reaction to this alone, an eighties’ Yuppie streak outdated and leaving him behind, just look at his inability to recognise the nature investment and work today.

        Less is more.

  2. billy goat says:

    In my opinion it’s because the Labour Party is after the “big fish”, i.e. the former minister. They want to shame him.

  3. Pippa says:

    As long as I remember its always the wrong doers who benefit from their wrong doing. I’ve never known a agovernment entity give a bonus to those who always paid their taxes and utility bills.promptly.

    It pays to be a rogue. And even more insulting is the fact that the workers who did the tampering are being prosecuted – and rightly so while the real criminals and “sinjuri” are being let off very lightly. Again two weights, two measures.

  4. pablo says:

    Enemalta have a policy whereby they flatly refuse any transfer of a registered consumer before any arrears due by the old delinquent registered consumer are paid up.

    I know of cases where new domestic owners have to settle the previous consumer’s arrears – in thousands of Euros – arrears which Enemalta allowed to mount up through incompetence in their credit management.

    It’s an abuse of its market monopoly and dominance. Naturally, the rule bends depending on who you are and who you know.

    Amongst these smart meter thieves there must be Labour donors who gave some of their stolen money to Labour’s electoral bag, and for whom Enemalta’s cold heart now bleeds profusely.

  5. The Mole says:

    As usual, they are testing the waters for public reaction. The CEO, who is officially not part of the Taghna Lkoll, mentions a possibility. They will then audit the public reaction, and somebody from Taghna Lkoll will decide accordingly. If they decide against the measure, they will say it was just the CEO expressing a thought, but him of the cancer-factory deems otherwise.

    Speaking of cancer-factory, maybe that was the idea behind the energy and health portfolios under the same minister.

  6. m.spiteri says:

    The government is condoning corruption to the nth degree. So the business cheats by paying the Enemalta employ for a tampered meter.

    The business steals money from the state…at the same time, the business (as most businesses do in times of crisis) raises prices to compensate for the higher electricity charges they are supposedly paying.

    The end result is that they cheat tax payers twice – once directly through their taxpaying money and next by cheating their clients. Will the police investigate if these businesses (whoever they may be) hiked their prices as a result of higher electricity rates?

    If the government condones their behaviour and in turn gets his due – how can the client get his due for what he has been cheated?

    [Daphne – Businesses are allowed to put up their prices. They don’t need police or government permission to do so, nor do they need to justify the price increase. The market dictates: if the price is too high, people won’t pay it. The police have no business investigating why people put up their prices. God forbid we should go back down that particular road. It’s an open market now.]

  7. not negotiable says:

    If these businesses will go bust if they pay the electricity bills, they either made bad costings which did not take into consideration energy costs or they worked out costings on the basis of the tampered meters. In both instances, they did not act like good businessmen and bad businessmen should not be in business.

  8. Whilst these people (crooks) used government and tax payers’ money, honest businessmen had to pay interest on their overdraft to keep moving.

  9. fed up says:

    Interesting. Enemalta are protecting companies that sought unfair competitive advantage by stealing electricity.

    Meanwhile there is no one to protect the honest SMEs that could have lost money or were driven out of business because they were unable to compete with these rogue operators.

    Perhaps the thieving directors should be named and shamed because if they cheated this way then they probably have no qualms about cheating in other ways in the service they offer to customers and I for one would like to know so that in future I can choose with whom I spend my money.

  10. Joe Fenech says:

    So while these people are all for free enterprise, they still had the guts to help themselves to illegal subsidies? What on earth is this – ‘free-enterprise with a twist’ ?

    And the most outrageous of all:


    So is all the nation going to benefit from this new payment plan or is this exclusively for crooks?

  11. ken il malti says:

    Logic would have dictated that owners of business establishments would be the largest users of this fraud set-up.

    Big electrical power users would all clamour to be included to save big money on a monthly basis through this rigged system.

  12. EVC says:

    Iktar nahseb biex ma jizdiedx il-qaghad qed jghid hekk.

    U x’se jaghmel bil-flus li jrid jigbor ghax hekk donnu jinteressah biss?

    Se jqassamhom lil dawk li hallsu iktar? Lil xi hwienet li kellhom jghalqu ghax ma setghux ilahhqu ma dawk li kienu qed jiffrankaw bis-serq?

    U tghid kieku jien, cittadina kwalunkwe inqbadt nisraq kien se jtini wkoll ic-cans li nhallas bil-mod?

    Tghid se jtihom tul ta snin biex tilhaq tasal elezzjoni ohra u jamew b’din id-decizzjoni? Tghid biex dawn il-hlasijiet jintesew bil-mod il-mod?

    Nistaqsi qieghda.

  13. Peppa Pig says:

    During today’s early afternoon ONE radio program, Dr Toni Abela was excusing the SMEs in question and putting the blame of the theft and corruption on the modus operandi of the previous government.

    Honest businessmen and households quietly paid their dues and re-adjusted their priorities to be in a position to honour their debts. Others ended up having their services cut off.

    The corrupt few got away with corrupting Enemalta officials and stealing electricity.

    What now?

    Forgive their theft ‘ghax imsieken , dawn ihaddmu lin-nies ta’.

    As far as the Labour government is concerned, HONESTY IS NOT THE BEST POLICY.

    And that, my dear friends, is official.

    • Jozef says:

      There you go, market distortion at its very best. Chinese dumping style.

      And don’t tell me this wasn’t planned since someone was elected to lead a party. The cash pouring into their campaign was unprecedented.

      The ramifications to market dominance still to be understood.

  14. Peppa Pig says:

    ”E IO PAGO!”

  15. beingpressed says:

    Enemalta officials escorted bypolice officers were seen in Paceville on the weekend checking meters.

    I doubt it very much that domestic consumers were actually using these corrupt services.

    When they realised how many pro Labour companies or businessmen were involved, they offered the amnesty.

  16. A. Charles says:

    We are forgetting one important point; the Labour Party is still in election mode and if they go after these people in courts, Labour will lose thousands of votes for the E.P. elections.

  17. Catsrbest says:

    Is it possible to find out the names of these ‘big fish’ and name and shame them?

    This saga is yet one of the greatest injustices committed by this administration.

    Just imagine the outcry if it was GonziPN who did it.

  18. ciccio says:

    ““My intention is to recoup the money owed to the corporation, not to make life impossible for business owners or to see them going bust,” he said.”

    Maybe Malta Today was right when it called them the “energy beneficiaries.”

    So now we know that Labour’s “big fish” qualify to be “energy beneficiaries.” Rasha l-isfel, u saqajha ‘l fuq.

  19. M says:

    ‘Counter productive’ to whom? Can we have a list of thieves, and the relevant scenarios, who will be prosecuted in court and those who would only have to pay back what they stole plus a fine? Will car thieves, bank robbers, bag snatchers be prosecuted for example?

    Since the present government in its wisdom (not) has decided to change the goal posts of the law and police practice, isn’t it only reasonable that those who have to live on this island are informed of the new rules? Or do we live at the discretion of the prime minsiter and his (non)enlightened jesters.

  20. How many of these energy beneficiaries, known to Enemalta, are big fish (in Joe Muscat’s terms) and how many are Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)? Will the big fish be made known to justify the general amnesty? Under what category the persons who have been brought to court fall? Where does the honest citizen comes in?

  21. Claude says:

    WAIT A MINUTE!! What about the other businesses who were crippled before, because their competitors were cheating and hence had a competitive advantage? This is truly ridiculous, so they cheat and steal, they are given the opportunity to pay up without being prosecuted and still they want more. If they think they can pay up then they should take out a loan and pay. if they cannot they should sell their business or some assets and pay up. Anything less is unfair and an outright insult to those of us who pay our dues regularly and don’t tamper our meters..

    • Jozef says:

      It’s clear what Labour’s doing then is it? That’s your typical socio-economic engineering, no different to University entrance requirements discriminating those who weren’t supposedly born of workers.

      One has to ask Muscat whether he got the his priorities wrong on this one, if his rallyng cry was the assumption that his crowd was the one paying the bills, how come this anomaly?

      Surely these crooks would have been il-klikka ta’ GonziPN.

    • Aunt Hetty says:

      Fehn hu Fredu Sant and the” level playing field” in business ethics he was nattering about in yesterday evening’s ONE tv program hosted by Manuel Micallef and Simone Cini?

    • Gahan says:

      But truly under Joseph’s rule,who cares.

      Min mexa ħe*a u min ma ħe*iex inħe*a!

    • curious says:

      Can we sue for discrimination if we are ever caught doing something bad or criminal?

  22. Pontius says:

    This is not bloody fair, if you ask me. We’ve been in business for well over 50 odd years and have always paid our dues. VAT, provisional tax, national insurance, water and electricity bills and the rest.

    With these kind of people we are always at a disadvantage. So Daphne, it’s always a case of ” Min hexa mexa u min ma hexiex inhexa “.

  23. Francis Saliba M.D. says:

    Next stop “AMNESTY” and bye bye to the recovery of millions of stolen euros.

    This will not happen because most of the robbers were SMEs. It will happen because some of them were “pigs that were more equal than the others” in a Malta that is now proven not to be a MaltaTaghna Lkoll.

  24. Makjavel says:

    We all keep mentioning Transparency, a promise by Joseph Muscat.

    Being transparent means being invisible – that is cannot be seen.

    Joseph’s promise of transparency is exactly that.

  25. Jozef says:

    When Labour opposed EU membership the message was clear, standards, competition, innovation wasn’t going to happen.

    When Muscat came to the fore, the message was the same, standards, innovation and brains weren’t of this place.

    In the end, this government is keeping its promise. It will be its undoing, one needs only look at the anomaly in import/export figures and a deficit rising exponentially. Both clear signs of an incapable class of newcomers whose only target is landing government contracts or slumming it at everyone’s expense.

    This country doesn’t have the critical mass to take it for long, when resources are nil, their criminal action turns political at once. Toni Abela couldn’t be more clear.

    A party which cannot even imagine a use for Australia Hall has all its followers doing the same.

    Sustainable development needs cutting edge decisions with an administration and the best entrepreneurs on the same wavelength. We’re falling behind, and rest assured there’s nothing the new bizniss class will do about it.

    There was talk of the Maltese business class going out and looking for new markets once, now we’re not even allowed anywhere near Sai Mizzi’s contact number. The mindset crystal clear, business is government sanctioned, real entrepreneurs direct competitors to this holding group.

    Muscat then, is just a reflection of these swindlers, the vote a sore point for the PN to ponder. Radical mindshift required, before we’re reduced to some South American state’s wealth imbalance. These usually having some anti-American leftie dictating ‘economics’.

    To date Labour has; nationalised the bus service, proposes to nationalise local wardens, made sure no one gets their hands on power distribution, speaks of difficult decisions at the national air carrier, can blackmail any business with this electricity scam, let alone protect others, raised the stakes with land speculators, (indeed is one of them), removing any clarity in planning regulations and introduced ministerial discretion to development.

    Those who gave him the benefit of the doubt, foremost AD forget that what he said implied a headless state. If Muscat had an issue with independent authorities and clear written rules, who did they expect to fill the void planned? Briguglio’s marxism blinded him to any abuse. Which in this half baked Western Malta is a natural occurrence whenever rules are tainted an obstruction to development.

    Never was nhallukhom tahdmu so true to form. Muscat won’t be happy until the clientelist regime is fully ramified into every aspect of economics.

    Meantime, no one’s safe.

  26. janeff says:

    I haven’t read all the comments. Did anyone mention the high probabilty that these ‘businessmen’ had been stealing millions upon millions even before the smart meters were installed? It was so easy and undectably so to bypass/stop the old meters.

    These hundreds of ‘businessmen’ picked up where they had left off when their new smarter-than-smart meter was installed.

  27. janeff says:

    Il-problemi taghna lkoll imma il-flus taghhom biss.

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