40 Maltese police officers arrested in overtime fraud probe

The police in Malta have so far arrested 40 police officers as part of a widespread investigation into a massive racket of overtime abuse and corruption within the police force itself.

Twenty-five of these officers have been released without charge but are still being investigated for their involvement in the case, the police said in an official statement on Thursday.

The investigation began after a whistleblower spilled the beans on what he alleges has been happening for years.

The Criminal Investigations Department of Malta Police Force, the anti-fraud unit and the internal affairs units are jointly investigating what has been described as a “web of fraud, misappropriation and corruption” by officers.

So far, a police superintendent, a female sergeant and two constables have resigned from their jobs.

The investigation originally began within the traffic branch, but sources close to the case confirmed that it has now been widened and is also covering other sections and units within the police force, where similar irregularities were suspected to have taken place.

It is believed that officers within the traffic section, mainly motorcycle officers, submitted overtime sheets for “hundreds of hours” that they did not carry out over at least three years. Investigators are also looking into claims that the officers were also using police fuel to fill up their own private vehicles.

The wide-ranging internal fraud investigation was first brought to the attention of the police in December by an anonymous letter sent to the then-police commissioner, with details of how officers were cashing in on duties they never performed.

Commenting on the investigation, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Thursday the fact that the police are investigating their own people shows how seriously the matter is being taken.

“We have a situation where the force is investigating its own members, which shows there is integrity in the way it operates. But there is still more that needs to be done,” Abela said.