“Neville Gafa took between €2 million and €3 million in bribes for visas” – high-ranking Libyan sources

Published: August 21, 2016 at 11:55pm

Until the general election, Neville Gafa was a shop assistant at an optician’s in Valletta. But after the general election, he was put on the public payroll as a ‘person of trust’, first in the Office of the Prime Minister, working for Keith Schembri, and then in the Health Ministry, working for Konrad Mizzi.

Some weeks ago, the news broke that he had been taking money to issue ‘medical visas’ – that is, visas for people who need hospital treatment – to Libyans. The news reports said that the matter had been referred to the police by the permanent secretary at the Health Ministry.

The fascinating thing, though, is that Neville Gafa is still on the public payroll. He has not been fired, even though – as a political appointee – he can be fired at any time and does not have to be suspended pending investigations, as do civil servants.

We can get a better idea of why Gafa – whose grandfather Pawlu Gafa was Prime Minister Mintoff’s loyal chauffeur, Pawlu Gafa – wasn’t fired by reading the big story in The Malta Independent today. High-ranking Libyan sources spoke to the newspaper about the visa racket, claiming that Gafa took “between €2 million and €3 million” in bribe money since 2014.

There is no way he could have been running that kind of racket alone. For a start, Gafa did not have the authority to actually issue the visas and stamp them into the passport. He was a political appointee to the secretariats of the two most corrupt (that we know of so far) government officials: Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri.

Also, the scale of the money involved indicates a full-blown organised racket rather than a bit of opportunistic thieving. And that means individuals far more important than he is have to be protected.

Gafa did not take bribes to issue medical visas to Libyans who really needed medical treatment in Malta. It’s much worse than that: he issued medical visas to Libyans who did not need medical treatment at all, but who would have been refused a standard visa had they applied. This means they were not properly vetted and, the newspaper says – quoting its Libyan sources – they include criminals who have since disappeared into the European Union’s Schengen area.

A senior Libyan security source told The Malta Independent: “They [the perpetrators of the racket] stole money from injured children who never got their visas to be treated in Malta. Some of those children, and adults, have died in the meantime because they did not get the treatment. In contrast, the Italians come for the injured themselves and take them to Italy for treatment with no money asked for. Malta asks us for money and then we never get the visas… and in this latest case they did not even get their money back, let alone the visas to come to Malta for life-saving treatment.”

The Libyans who really did need medical treatment were reportedly asked for €2,500 for the issuing of a visa. The money was not returned and the visa was not issued either. The money was given in cash, and the passports were returned unstamped.

Read what I had written about Neville Gafa:

His close links to Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri and Joseph Muscat

His nonchalance on Facebook despite being exposed as a racketeer

His ridiculing of David Thake for trying to ring him with questions

Neville Gafa with Konrad Mizzi

Neville Gafa with Konrad Mizzi