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This is part eight of a broader investigation. Click to read: part one | explainer | part two | part three | part four | part five | part six | part seven

This website’s most popular police superintendent, Frankie Sammut, who has featured in almost every installment of The Critical Angle project’s longest-running investigation to date, attended this week’s hearing in his legal dispute with police commissioner Angelo Gafa’ after he had failed to show up to multiple prior sittings, indicating that the case, which the court was about to discontinue over perceived lack of interest from the plaintiffs, is set to continue.

In October of last year, Sammut was exposed by this website for his involvement in a passport-selling company based in Malta named IWS Global Ltd, which is partially owned by disgraced former economy minister Chris Cardona.

Shortly after we published our first story, we learned about Sammut’s court case against Gafa’ following a tip-off from an informed reader. Sammut had instituted court action against the police commissioner over the latter’s imposition of restrictions on what kind of work police officers can do outside of the police force.

A photo of IWS Group at their stand in Dubai’s citizenship expo last year. From left to right:
IWS’ founder and CEO Matthias Vidergold/Saliba, IWS’ regional manager in the Balkans Agnesa Ordanoska, and disgraced former economy minister and co-shareholder Chris Cardona.

By February of this year, it seemed Sammut had gone idle. His name and bio were removed from IWS’ website, and the court case seemed like it was abandoned given that Sammut and the other two police officers who filed the case with him, Malta’s European Delegated Prosecutor within the auspices of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office in Malta, police superintendent Geoffrey Farrugia, and data protection officer Clayton Silvio, had stopped showing up to court cases.

All three officers had been previously granted permission to perform legal work, albeit with restrictions: according to court documents seen by this website, the officers were only allowed to provide legal advice and assistance in matters that are purely administrative and disciplinary in nature, draft laws, contracts, and conduct related research, provide consultancy services in matters of a civil nature, and give lectures related to their area of expertise.

This restricted permission was granted through an established procedure in which a board, chaired by Gafa’ himself, assessed police officers’ applications for permission to work outside the force on a case-by-case basis.

Now, during the latest court sitting which occurred on Wednesday morning, Sammut and his lawyer showed up in court again, with his lawyer declaring that he was also taking on the patronage of the two other police officers who filed the case against Gafa’. During the next hearing, which will be held on 26 June, the police commissioner will be sending in written responses to the plaintiffs’ lawyer’s questions as part of his cross-examination.

IWS, the company which previously employed Sammut, offers a wide range of immigration and cheap labour employment services, including the facilitation of golden passport acquisitions. Following this website’s first article about IWS Global, the website was temporarily shut down. Before the disgraced former economy minister’s involvement, IWS, originally registered in 2014, had failed to show any signs of economic activity for over six years. Within just three years, the company suddenly transformed into a sprawling business, selling citizenship services from its offices in Malta, the United Arab Emirates, St Lucia, and St Kitts and Nevis.

Since then, Sammut has branched out into real estate, becoming one of RE/MAX’s new affiliates while being awarded a promotion from senior inspector to superintendent, all within the same week. Sammut’s private ventures outside of the police corps have raised eyebrows among legal circles, including the Chamber of Advocates, the legal profession’s regulatory body.

The Chamber, along with human rights advocacy NGO aditus foundation, had told this website that Sammut’s prior dual involvement in police immigration affairs and passports sales amounted to a conflict of interest. Sammut’s newest employer had not answered this website’s questions about whether they were aware of Sammut’s dubious conflict of interest in his previous role.

A man for all seasons: after bagging promotion, police officer turned passport-selling lawyer ventures into real estate

The questions key story targets refused to answer:

Dr Christian Cardona:

1) As a former member of Cabinet who had a direct say in the decision to sell Maltese passports, which was implemented through a legal framework that is currently being contested through the European Court of Justice at the behest of the European Commission, do you feel that it is justifiable for you to become involved in selling passports? Do you think it is ethical, considering the level of access you had in government.

Matthias Vidergold:

1) How come you changed your surname from Saliba to Vidergold? Was this done on purpose, with the intent of keeping a low profile?

2) Do you think it’s ethical to do business with a disgraced former Cabinet minister who was repeatedly accused of being involved in a murder conspiracy and a serving police inspector within the immigration unit?

Frankie Sammut:

1) How can you justify selling golden passports to wealthy individuals who are seeking unmitigated access to the European Union while prosecuting individuals making use of fake passports on behalf of the Maltese police force? Isn’t this a clear conflict of interest?

2) Who gave you permission to both work as a lawyer, as the head of legal and compliance in an immigration services company, and as a senior police inspector in the police force’s immigration unit? Who signed off on this decision?

Angelo Gafa’:

1) Who gave Sammut permission to work for two separate firms as a lawyer while serving as a senior police inspector within the immigration unit?

2) Does the police force approve of having a senior immigration inspector involved in a business that sells golden passports, a practice which the European Commission describes as “incompatible with the principle of sincere cooperation”?

3) Does the police force think it is appropriate for an inspector to be in business with a disgraced former Cabinet minister who was repeatedly accused of being involved in a murder conspiracy?

4) Can the police force confirm whether Sammut is still serving as a senior immigration police inspector or not? If not, how is this the case? On what grounds is Sammut no longer employed with the Malta Police Force (if that is the case)?

5) Can you officially state why the police commissioner has repeatedly refused requests for comment from this website?

6) Given that there are several questionable aspects related to the operations of IWS Global Ltd (Sammut’s former employer during his tenure as police inspector), including but not limited to the sale of golden passports, the involvement of a disgraced former member of Cabinet, and the ties with the cheap labour market, did the police force ever look into the company’s affairs or investigate its financials?

7) What is the police force’s official policy on officers being involved in the provision of real estate services?

Questions have been pending for 22 weeks.

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